At what age do young people begin to hate? Studies tell us that in all-boy pairs or groups, at least in the United States, physical aggression seems to remain both relatively high and constant over the childhood years (Fabes, Knight, & Higgins, 1995). It has been documented that educators, sociologists, and even parents have observed that children begin to notice differences in skin color in other children as early as the ages of three or four. These observations are reinforced by what they see on television and in books and magazines. As a natural part of their growth process, they notice these distinctions and begin to formulate questions about these differences. This is a crucial period in which teachers and parents can set a pattern for better understanding between the races. It is a unique opportunity to begin to instill the values of tolerance and understanding (Simplicio, 2001). Many people do not take the time to consider how the racial images and messages received during childhood and adolescence may have influenced their own attitudes and beliefs about people who are racially different from themselves.
Youth hate crimes are a societal problem in which young people turn extremist ideas into acts of violence. To develop methods for prevention, early identification, and intervention, mental health professionals must have an awareness and understanding of the issue (Brooks, Remtulla, & Steinberg, 2003). How does an aggressive child begin to believe that differences he observes in others are "wrong" and it is his responsibility to make things "right"? Can a pattern of aggression be detected in time before a youth takes it to the next level, i.e. joining or forming a hate group? What are the causative factors of hatred?
From Aggression to Hate Crimes:
The Factors of Hatred
Studies have established that most...