Abstract: How Community Based Organizations Support Victims of Hate Crimes (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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189P How Community Based Organizations Support Victims of Hate Crimes

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Juan Barthelemy, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Aabha Brown, MSW, Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Houston
Donna Amtsberg, LCSW, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Houston, TX
Zoe Alterman, Graduate Assistant, University of Houston
Hannah Hildinger, Graduate Assistant, University of Houston
Purpose: In Texas in 2020, there were 309 hate crimes reported against people, 149 against property, and 9 against society, with the largest bias motivation being race/ethnicity/ancestry (U.S. Department of Justice, 2020). The Houston Police Department (HPD) reports indicate a significant rise in the number of hate crimes reported in 2020 in comparison to previous years. Group member identities can be defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ethnicity/nationality, and disability (Cheng et al., 2013). The purpose of this study was to understand how community based organizations (CBOs) support their clients who report having experienced some type of hate crime. In addition, we were interested in learning how CBOs define hate crimes, whether CBOs have protocols to report hate crimes, how they collaborate with other CBOs, how CBOs view their relationships with Law Enforcement (LE), and the types of trainings that organizations thought would be helpful.

Methods: We conducted 23 interviews of staff from 10 CBOs in the Houston area. The research team developed a 12 item questionnaire based on the study’s research questions. Due to COVID-19 protocols, interviews were conducted using the Zoom platform. Two or three research team members conducted each interview. Once the interviews were conducted, they were transcribed and then uploaded into the Dedoose software, which was used to code the data. The research team, which consisted of three faculty members and two graduate assistants, identified the key themes in the data. Once the themes were identified relevant quotes were identified to highlight participants’ responses.

Results: The CBOs that were included in the study ranged in size from less than 5 full time employees to multisite organizations with hundreds of employees. Participants indicated that most organizations did not have a formal definition of a hate crime. They also revealed that many of the staff could benefit from additional training on reporting hate crimes and supporting clients who reported being victimized by hate crimes. Furthermore, participants reported collaborations with other CBOs, which varied based on the types of services provided by other CBOs. There were mixed results with regard to organizational relationships with LE. Larger organizations generally reported more positive relationships with LE, whereas smaller organizations indicated that their clients don’t trust LE, so they typically don’t work as closely with LE. Moreover, as some of the CBOs reported serving undocumented clients, which also serves as a barrier to working with LE.

Discussion: Our analysis revealed mistrust of LE is the result of previous negative experiences with LE, poor LE perceptions in communities of color, and the threat of deportation for undocumented clients. There is also a perception that LE can be tone deaf with regard to working with communities of color to improve those relationships. Organizations would benefit from establishing formal protocols for how to address hate crimes and providing ongoing training across organizations so that everyone in the organization has access to the same information to continuity of services. We also provide recommendations for how organizations can address the results of the study.