Wednesday, July 15, 2020
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Amid hate incident uptick, U.Md. hires coordinator

The University of Maryland, College Park, announced on Monday it will hire a hate bias response coordinator and issued new policies for addressing hate bias incidents, The Diamondback reports.

(Carmichael Library / Flickr Creative Commons)

A hate bias response team, including the new coordinator position, will work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, and University Police to coordinate the university’s response to hate bias incidents reported on campus, which have become more frequent in recent months, according to the student newspaper at the university. This trend, one official was quoted as saying, mirrors a national trend.

“That goes to a larger context in the United States right now where it seems like there’s a renewed vigor with which hate groups are targeting higher education institutions,” the paper quoted Roger Worthington, the university’s chief diversity officer, as saying.

The increase in hate crime response coordination efforts comes just a few months after the killing of a black student from Bowie State University on the College Park campus, allegedly by a white student who has been charged with murder and a hate crime, but other examples of alleged hate crimes and hate bias incidents on campus include a Confederate flag being etched into a bathroom stall in one student dormitory and a swastika being drawn on a balcony railing in the plant sciences building.

The Diamondback didn’t report the new coordinator’s salary or how much money the university would spend on the effort to respond to this adolescent hate bias on campus. One official, however, was quoted as saying he believes other universities may consider the program as a model for how to respond to hate bias incidents on college campuses.

The announcement comes on the same day the US Supreme Court let stand a Maryland law banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Without comment, the Court denied an appeal filed by the National Rifle Association and other appellants to review a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that found the ban didn’t implicate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

The law was written in Maryland after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 27 people dead, including some kindergartners. Sitting en banc, the Fourth Circuit ruled 10-4 that the law was constitutional.

Research continues to come in on the effect bullying has on students’ tendency to be the perpetrator of school shootings or to carry a weapon in school.

Voxitatis reported three years ago, based on a report entitled “Bullying, romantic rejection, and conflicts with teachers: The crucial role of social dynamics in the development of school shootings—a systematic review,” that most kids who carry weapons in school had experienced rejection or been victimized by bullies.

According to a meta-analysis that considered 37 studies and a total of 126 attacks in 13 countries including the US, Canada, Germany, Finland, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and Sweden, “88 percent of the perpetrators had experienced problems and conflicts in their social lives” and “85 percent had been marginalized.” About 54 percent of the shooters had experienced some form of rejection by their peers, including about one-third who were rejected in a romantic context. In some cases, the romantic rejection was the only social risk factor.

Now a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics fully corroborates that 3-year-old meta-analysis and concludes that victims of bullying are more likely to bring weapons to school, especially if the bullying victim had one or more other risk factors: skipping school, being involved in fights, and being threatened or injured.

An accompanying editorial in the journal, which is published for doctors but has a broad appeal among school leaders as well, states that practitioners “should carefully screen for bullying victimization and related factors and provide youth with or refer them to tailored services based on the individual’s broader constellation of risk and protective factors. A more targeted conversation could occur with these youth, and as needed, additional supports and interventions could be put in place.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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