Hate mail, often sent anonymously, is a form of bullying that harasses, intimidates and threatens the recipient. It may arrive through email, Facebook or traditional letters, and the language used is abusive and hurtful to the recipient. Perpetrators often target victims identified by disability, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. You might be able stop hate mail by contacting your local police.
What You Can Do
Depending upon the severity of the content, you can respond, block or contact authorities. When hate mail arrives in your inbox, never engage in a back-and-forth battle of words; instead, ask the hater to stop, and if the hate mail continues let the sender know you will contact authorities. Most email providers include server-side email filters that seize spam before it reaches your inbox. Add the sender and his domain into the block sender’s list. Contact you email provider for further instruction, if necessary. People who are bullied on Facebook can remove the post and report it through the report link, or block the sender completely. Children should also share the content with a parent or teacher and have them assess the situation.
Know Your Rights
Some towns or cities may have a hate crime unit within their local police departments that deal with hate-biased crime; however, laws vary from state-to-state. According to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, the statute only criminalizes violent acts that result in bodily injury, not threats of violence, such as one might receive in hate mail. However, the statute also states that threats to inflict physical injury may be prosecuted under other hate crimes statutes. If you have reason to believe you are in danger of a hate crime, report the incident to the police, and save all correspondence for evidence in case a future incident occurs.
- Facebook: What Is Social Reporting
- Maryland Commission on Human Relations: Maryland’s Response to Hate Crimes
- The United States Department of Justice: Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009
- The New York County District Office: Resources for Victims or Witnesses of Hate Crimes
- Photo Credit melecis/iStock/Getty Images
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