Teen Hate Crimes - Teach Tolerance and Encourage Diversity

Hate crimes are criminal actions intended to harm or intimidate people because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other minority group status. They are also referred to as bias crimes.

The headlines of the three Long Island teenagers who admitted to being part of a gang that targeted Hispanics for violence were sentenced to seven-year prison terms Wednesday for their roles in the 2008 killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant. A fourth teen who met the group on the night of the slaying was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence, is yet another awareness to hate crimes.

In Broward County we have experience hate crimes with teens through bullying and violence.  16 year-old Wayne Treacy is being tried as an adult in the brutal beating of 15 year-old Josie Ratley.  There are 3 teen defendants being tried as adults for the near death of 15 year-old Michael Brewer.  In these cases, although we are not dealing with religious or sexual orientation prejudice, we are looking at teens with so much hate and anger they react in savage ways.

As school has opened we to reiterate tolerance and talk to our teens about how hate can destroy lives. Teaching Tolerance is a great website and project by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Parents can teach tolerance by example — and in other ways, too. Talking together about tolerance and respect helps kids learn more about the values you want them to have. Giving them opportunities to play and work with others is important as well. This lets kids learn firsthand that everyone has something to contribute and to experience differences and similarities.

Sources: CBS News, Psychology UC Davis, Teaching Tolerance, KidsHealth

Read more and watch important 3 minute video that can change your life.

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