News

Professors Examine the Implications of COVID-19 on Hate Crimes

September 11, 2020

College of Criminology & Criminal Justice professors, Dr. Brendan Lantz and Dr. Marin Wenger are researching bias and hate crime victimization during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, the implications of the virus have extended beyond physical health, potentially exacerbating xenophobia, hate, and prejudice. The FBI has warned about an expected increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and there is reason to suspect significant consequences for other racial and religious minorities as well.

Because information on the extent and nature of bias and hate crime victimization during the COVID-19 pandemic is currently lacking, Dr. Lantz and Dr. Wenger administered a survey to 4,188 respondents throughout the United States in May 2020. The research team asked survey respondents a number of questions related to bias during the pandemic which measured (a) individual prejudice levels; (b) experiences with racial/ethnic discrimination; (c) experiences with hate crime victimization; (d) fear of victimization and associated behavioral changes; and (e) adverse mental health consequences, including depression.

Among their findings are that:

  • 29% of Asian survey respondents experienced some form of racial discrimination;
  • 16% of Asian survey respondents reported being a victim of a racially-motivated hate crime;
  • Only 24% of those who were victims of a hate crime reported the incident to police;
  • Over 44% of Asian survey respondents knew someone personally who had been the victim of a hate crime;
  • Almost 32% of Asian survey respondents indicated that they changed their personal behavior in order to avoid bias motivated harassment or violence;
  • Almost 13% of non-Asian respondents indicated they fear Asian people may spread unusual diseases.

Dr. Lantz and Dr. Wenger’s research brief is available here.

Dr. Lantz has been an Assistant Professor with the College since receiving his Ph.D. in Criminology from The Pennsylvania State University in 2017. He also serves as the Director of the Hate Crime Research and Policy Institute, a branch of the College’s Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research. His research interests focus on hate crime, violence, victimization, and co-offending.

Dr. Wenger has been an Assistant Professor with the College since receiving her Ph.D. in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. She also serves as the Faculty Affiliate of the Hate Crime Research and Policy Institute, a branch of the College’s Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research. Her research interests focus on communities and crime, contextual effects, racial stratification, racial disparity, and hate crime.