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Hate speech in the nation’s middle and high schools has decreased, overall, though that is not true for insults related to race and other categories, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education.

The biannual report, a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, tracks the level of hate speech, including graffiti on school property and buses, experienced by 12-18-year-old students. It found that in 2013, only 7 percent of students that age reported being called a hate-related word. That is down from 12 percent in 2001. Similarly, the percentage of children who reported seeing hate-related graffiti declined from 36 percent to 25 percent in the same period.

In the survey, students were asked, specifically, if during the school year anyone called them an insulting or bad name at school having to do with their race, religion, ethnic background or national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation.

While insults relating to students’ gender decreased from 23 percent to 15 percent over the dozen years, hate speech related to a student’s race, ethnicity and sexual orientation all increased.  The percentage of students who reported being called hateful words related to their race increased by 16 percentage points from 34 percent to 50 percent; those reporting insults based on ethnicity rose from 22 percent to 29 percent; and the percentage of those who said they were called a hate word based on their sexual orientation was greater in 2013 (16 percent) compared to 2001 (10 percent.)

 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO