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Saturday, October 04, 2008

October: An End to Violence

It may seem odd to some, at first.

October begins with the observance of St. Francis, the man whose life has become to be a symbol of peace in the world through the reconciliation and celebration of all of God's creatures and creation.

The story told of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio stands as a parable of sorts to end violence.

So, it is not so very strange that October is also the month when efforts are made to increase awareness about violence - the domestic violence experienced by women and children in their own homes as well as the violence experienced as Hate Crimes based racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation or disability prejudice.

I took a peek at some of the statistics compiled by the FBI in terms of Hate Crimes.

According to information compiled on the FBI Website, in 2006, 2,105 law enforcement agencies reported 7,722 hate crimes involving 9,642 victims.

That is an increase, over all, from 2005 when 2,037 law enforcement agencies reported 7,163 hate crimes involving 8,795 victims.

Here is a more in-depth look at the 2006 statistics.

Single-Bias Incidents

An analysis of the 7,720 single-bias incidents reported in 2006 reveals the following:

* 51.8 percent were racially motivated.
* 18.9 percent were motivated by religious bias.
* 15.5 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias.
* 12.7 percent stemmed from ethnicity/national origin bias.
* 1.0 percent were prompted by disability bias. (Based on Table 1.)

Sexual-orientation bias

In 2006, law enforcement agencies reported 1,415 hate crime offenses based on sexual- orientation bias. Of these offenses:

* 62.3 percent were classified as anti-male homosexual biased.
* 20.7 percent were classified as anti-homosexual biased.
* 13.6 percent were classified as anti-female homosexual biased.
* 2.0 percent were classified as anti-heterosexual biased.
* 1.5 percent were classified as anti-bisexual biased. (Based on Table 1.)

And, who are the offenders?

By Race

An analysis of available race data for the 7,330 known hate crime offenders revealed that:

* 58.6 percent were white.
* 20.6 percent were black.
* 5.7 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races (multiple races, group).
* 1.1 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander.
* 1.0 percent of known offenders were American Indian/Alaskan Native.
* 12.9 percent were unknown.

Interestingly enough, the FBI does not include "gender" in its definition of a hate crime, so there were no statistics there in terms of sexual assault or incidences of domestic violence.

You can find those sobering statistics at AARDVARC, Family Violence Prevention Fund, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence which compiles statistics on all of the different forms of abuse and violence - from physical to sexual assault, to psychological and economic abuse and differentiates the victims of violence from adult women and men, the elderly and children.

Throughout October, I will be posting some statistics on some aspect of violence and hate crimes as a discipline of increasing awareness for myself.

It seems fitting, however, to begin with the Prayer attributed to St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


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