SHU/WHSU Poll: Hate Crimes a Concern on Long Island

News Story: February 1, 2009

In a new Sacred Heart University/WSHUPublic Radio Poll of Long Island (NY) residents, a majority (86.8%) of respondents reported being “very concerned” (56.3%) or “somewhat concerned” (30.5%) about recent hate crimes.

A majority of respondents, 87.0%, reported being very (56.3%) or somewhat (30.8%) aware of recent hate crimes on Long Island. 

When comparing current hate crimes to two years ago, nearly two-thirds of respondents, 65.0%, viewed hate crimes on Long Island as increasing or remaining constant but high while 16.3% of respondents viewed hate crimes as decreasing or remaining constant but low.

While 43.8% of respondents were either somewhat unaware (7.5%) or not at all aware (36.3%) of the Federal investigation of local hate crimes, 53.0% were very (22.0%) or somewhat (31.0%) aware.

A large majority of respondents, 90.5%, reported never being a victim of a hate crime. Less than one-tenth of respondents, 6.8% reported being a victim of a hate crime and the remaining 2.8% were unsure. 

According to Dr. Josh Klein, a political sociologist and assistant professor in the Criminal Justice department at Sacred Heart University, “These survey results show that when it comes to hate crime, most of the Long Island public is at least somewhat aware and concerned. In my view, it is alarming that 6.8% claim to have been hate crime victims. Even though this may be exaggerated by respondents who count racist incidents that are less serious than hate crimes, that is a high figure for a relatively urban and well-off region in a country claiming to be democratic and just. It raises the need for more research and stronger policies to address discrimination and prejudice.

“It is unfortunate that some of the awareness shown in this study is probably due to the extreme violence of less frequent, high profile hate crimes. The American public, like many others, is often less aware of everyday, but very real, institutional and psychological racism.”

Summary of Findings

A majority of respondents, 87.0%, reported being very (56.3%) or somewhat (30.8%) aware of recent hate crimes on Long Island. 

A majority (86.8%) of respondents reported being “very concerned” (56.3%) or “somewhat concerned” (30.5%) about recent hate crimes.

When comparing current hate crimes to two years ago, nearly two-thirds of respondents, 65.0%, viewed hate crimes on Long Island as increasing or remaining constant but high while 16.3% of respondents viewed hate crimes as decreasing or remaining constant but low.

While 43.8% of respondents were either somewhat unaware (7.5%) or not at all aware (36.3%) of the Federal investigation of local hate crimes, 53.0% were very (22.0%) or somewhat (31.0%) aware.

A small percent of respondents, 6.8%, had reported being a victim of a hate crime while 2.8% were unsure. 

How the Poll Was Conducted

The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute completed 400 interviews, in a quantitative research design, with residents of Long Island (200 Suffolk County residents and 200 Nassau County residents), New York. The telephone interviews were conducted between February 9 – 16, 2009. Statistically, a sample of 400 completed telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-5% at a 95% confidence level.