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Victim-Offender Mediation with Adolescents Who Commit Hate Crimes

McConnell, Stephen C
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Paper presented at the 108th Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, August 4-8.

In recent years, the number of reported hate crimes has continued to rise steadily. The majority of these offenses is motivated by racial prejudice and is typically committed by a small, loosely associated group of adolescent offenders. Hate crimes represent offenses that exert a uniquely detrimental impact on the individual victim, members of the targeted group and larger society. In addition to the physical and material losses that may occur as the result of a hate crime, these offenses are often psychologically devastating, terrorizing individuals and communities while simultaneously tearing at the foundation of intergroup relationships. In order to address this issue, new approaches to responding to hate crime have been developed, including penalty-enhancement strategies and educational programming for perpetrators. However, the efficacy of the proposed approaches in modifying the attitudes and behaviors of perpetrators is questionable. Of equal importance, many of these programs do little or nothing to address the needs of victims. In this paper, victim-offender mediation is explored as a strategy for intervening with adolescent offenders who commit racially motivated hate crimes and the victims of these offenses. It is hypothesized that in comparison to the current responses to hate crimes, this approach will offer greater benefits for victims, offenders, and larger society, both in the short and long term. (author’s abstract).


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