Orange County, and its schools, see sizeable increase in hate crimes during 2022: study

Hate crimes increased in Orange County over the course of 2022, according to the OC Human Relations Commission, which released its annual report on Thursday, Sept. 21.

The report found a 67% increase in hate crimes in 2022 over the previous year, while hate incidents, ones that fall short of a crime, dropped by a slight 4%. Over the past five years, there was a 75% increase in hate crimes and 142% increase in hate incidents, according to the report.

"We continue to see Black and Jewish communities targeted, but given the national rhetoric around the LGBQT community we're not surprised to see a 126% increase (from 2021-2022) that targets that community," said CEO of the commission Alison Edwards. 

The increase is also due to a surge in racist activity seen in the county's schools, which increased significantly in 2022, according to the study.

The report shows that out of the school-based hate incidents, most occurred at middle schools (50 incidents), followed closely by high schools (38 incidents) in 2022.

"We can say anecdotally it is in line from what we've heard from schools," said Edwards. "They have shared concerns, including racial slurs on campus, so we do see that reflected in the report."

Additionally, the study showed a 178% increase in bigotry at schools compared to 2021.

Edwards said a study last year showed that "the polarizing and vitriolic speech of adults is impacting young people and they're mimicking it, and that translates to school campuses."

According to the report, race-related crimes increased by nearly 80%, religious-based attacks increased by almost 200% and sexual-orientation offenses increased by about a quarter, when compared to 2021. Additionally, anti-Latino attacks doubled and anti-Black assaults rose by 138%.

The report also found that the most reported crimes included graffiti or vandalism, physical assault and threats. Almost all the hate crime offenders in 2022 were male, according to the study.

"It's important to note that the county continues to support tracking this information," said Edwards "We really hope the leaders across our community will continue to speak out against hate and support these communities who are increasingly targeted here and elsewhere."

City News Service contributed to this report.