Black Students in the Crosshairs

FBI data finds school hate crimes are on the rise in US and Black youths are most likely victims.


Most Black parents agree: Education is a priority for their children, a tool to help counteract racial bias. But newly-compiled federal data has found that U.S. schools were the third-most common place for hate crimes over a five-year period — and Black youths were the most frequent targets. 

An FBI crime data report released Monday found that more than 4,000 hate crimes were reported in elementary schools, secondary schools, and colleges from 2018 to 2022. Of those, however, nearly 1,700 of those hate crimes were perpetrated against Black people — almost half the total of hate crimes reported during that five-year span. 

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Indeed, the number of anti-Black hate crimes is more than twice the number of similar reported incidents against Jewish people, and it’s more than nine times higher than the number of reported hate crimes against Latinos.  

Meanwhile, only private homes or residences and public streets or alleys were more frequent locations for hate crimes than school campuses from 2018 to 2022. And after fluctuating between roughly 500 and 900 incidents per year during the five-year period, on-campus hate crimes surged to more than 1,300 in 2022, the last year data was available.

Crime analysts believe the numbers are likely higher because most hate crimes tend to go underreported: victims are intimidated into silence, and local law enforcement agencies aren’t required to report those crimes to the federal government. 

U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Program

The surge in reported, on-campus hate crimes comes two years after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis triggered global protests and calls for a racial reckoning. In recent years, however, some local and state officials have cracked down on classroom lessons about slavery, racial bias, tolerance, and diversity. 

The FBI defines hate crime as “a committed criminal offense which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or gender identity,” according to the report. And the attacks can range from property damage and vandalism to intimidation and assault.

Collecting data, the report states, “is to better understand the scope of hate crime in our nation and the various facets of this unique crime phenomenon.”

Crunching the numbers, the FBI found that school campuses were behind only private homes or residences and public streets or alleys as the most likely scene of a hate crime. Of hate crimes perpetrated from 2018-2022 in an educational setting, more than half took place at an elementary or secondary school, according to the report. 

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Of the more than 1,300 hate crimes that were reported in educational institutions in 2022, a total of roughly 900 attacks took place in both elementary and secondary schools, while a little more than 300 incidents on college campuses, according to the report. 

Among underage hate crime victims, around a third reported that the incident happened at school, according to the report. But about 36% of the hate-crime perpetrators reported that the incident happened at school, the report states. 

After Black students, the most common categories of hate crimes were anti-Jewish (745) and anti-LBGTQ (342). Black students, however, were far more likely than Jewish or LGBT students to experience intimidation, vandalism, or assault. 

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