Researching Hate: Challenges to Tracking Hate Crimes & Practices for Collecting Better Data

100 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2019

See all articles by Whittney Barth

Whittney Barth

University of Chicago - Law School

Kathy Bruce

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Beth Daviess

University of Chicago - Law School

Madeline Hall

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gabriel Lazarus

University of Chicago - Law School

Caroline Sabatier

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: September 18, 2019

Abstract

In the months after the 2016 Presidential election, many institutions began to focus on deepening their ability to track and report hate crimes. Accurate data on hate crimes allow these organizations — including nonprofits — to advocate both for better prevention efforts and for more support to individual victims and victimized communities. Collecting robust data on hate crimes is one of the most important steps for creating policy responses to the problem. But tracking hate crimes remains difficult for a number of reasons.

This report identifies the major challenges that victims, nonprofits, and government stakeholders face in their efforts to define, track, and report on hate crimes in America. These include the difficulties of data collection and pitfalls in drawing inferences from incomplete data. Based on a careful and considered analysis of these hurdles, this report proposes six recommendations tailored to nonprofits seeking to deepen their hate crime tracking efforts:

1. Collaborate with other nonprofits to reach victims and share the burden of collection efforts.

2. Consider adopting a uniform definition of a hate crime, separate from (and broader than) that used by the Uniform Crime Reporting system, to serve as a baseline for data comparison.

3. Review victim outreach strategy. With pooled resources, consider increasing outreach to and support of victims.

4. Be upfront about the shortcomings of data and cautious when making claims about trends over time.

5. If and where resources are available, consider a mixed methods approach for hate crime data collection.

6. Whatever the scope of the study, tailor data collection and analysis to fit its goals and resources.

In developing these recommendations, this report’s primary audiences are nonprofit organizations that collect data on hate crimes. At the same time, this report aims to serve as a resource for collaboration between nonprofits, law enforcement, policymakers, and funding partners interested in supporting more robust hate crime data collection efforts. At its core, this report draws attention to the centrality of victims’ experiences, which are crucial to understanding and responding to hate crimes. It does so with the hope that improved reporting efforts will yield support for victims and prevent future hate crimes.

Keywords: hate crime

Suggested Citation

Barth, Whittney and Bruce, Kathy and Daviess, Beth and Hall, Madeline and Lazarus, Gabriel and Sabatier, Caroline, Researching Hate: Challenges to Tracking Hate Crimes & Practices for Collecting Better Data (September 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3455758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3455758

Whittney Barth

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Kathy Bruce

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Beth Daviess

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Madeline Hall

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gabriel Lazarus (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Caroline Sabatier

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

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