Hate crimes are on the rise. Here’s what you can do to help prevent them – Colorado Public Radio

Posted By on May 25, 2022

What should I look out for in terms of red flags before someone potentially becomes violent?

Usually we notice that our loved ones are changing in some way. What we found in bystander research is that friends and family have the greatest influence and the greatest opportunity to catch it early, well before it would come onto the radar of a professional, like a mental health counselor or an educator. So we encourage that when somebody starts for the first time saying things about violence or hate, or suggesting that that's the answer to social or political issues, that we confront that by having a conversation and not shying away from it.

How should I have that conversation?

Social media can be one of the worst places to have a conversation about ideologies, because it easily becomes divisive. A face-to-face conversation would be best, since there can be some dialogue.

If someone says something that I have never heard them say before, like something racist, as uncomfortable as that would be, I would want to say, I've never heard you talk like that. Why are these things appealing to you? What's changed with you? Actually express concern about them, that something is off and they're becoming angry and blaming people, which is really a warning sign.

If, instead, you come with the opposite opinion, or try to use facts to dispute someones beliefs, sometimes it ends up having the effect of making you impossible to talk to. They think you're the other, or shaming them, and they will pull away, and then maybe they wont express these things to you, but they can continue to get more strident.

What if Im worried about getting someone in trouble by calling the police?

There's federal research that found that in any given attack, there are three people, usually friends and family, who had real information about what their loved one was going to do, but they probably didn't know what to do with it.

The top reason that people don't report the information is that they're afraid to get their loved one in trouble and they don't want to overreact, or for the loved one to get mad at them. This is especially true with teens and young people; they don't want to get their friend in trouble, or they don't want to get in trouble with them.

Luckily, in Colorado we have Safe2Tell. That works well for these kinds of concerns, about a kid who may have a gun on campus or has insinuated that they will hurt somebody. But the problem is, very much like what happened in Buffalo and even at the King Soopers in Boulder in 2021, once these kids graduate from high school, they don't necessarily fall on anyone's radar.

Are there times when intervention has really worked?

This is really where Colorado excels. Ever since the Columbine massacre in 1999, with the creation of things like Safe2Tell, along with collaboration between mental health and law enforcement for people in crisis, we are very quick at thwarting attacks when there's evidence of a plan, a target, weapons but those are all right on that edge of attack, and sometimes that's just within days or hours of something happening.

We have thousands of calls that go through Safe2Tell in a given year, and you don't hear about all of the suicides and guns on campus and attacks that were thwarted because it's their private business.

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Hate crimes are on the rise. Here's what you can do to help prevent them - Colorado Public Radio

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