How NYC plans to bring hate crime prevention lessons into public school classrooms

Mayor Adams
Mayor Eric Adams
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

As hate crimes continue to surge locally and nationwide, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday a new curriculum designed to teach public school students all about bias incidents in NYC and beyond. 

“Teaching About Hate Crimes and their Impact” is a series of hate-crime focused lessons that teach students in grades six to 12 about hate crimes, bias and their impact on individuals and communities. 

The city’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC), along with the Department of Education (DOE), partnered with Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that fights hate and bias, to develop the new curriculum and provide training for teachers. 

“Our children are at a breaking point, and investing in programming that fosters a greater understanding of diversity and the importance of inclusion is an important way to dam one of the many rivers that feeds the sea of hate,” Adams said. “Despite the uptick in hate crimes we are seeing across the city and nation, whether it be against someone’s religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else, we know that New York City is the greatest city in the world because of our extensive diversity.”

Hate crimes in NYC

According to governmental data, New York City saw 136 incidents of hate crimes between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year, as well as 47 arrests in the same time period. Many of these crimes included assaults based on religion and ethnicity. 

Zeroing in on March, compared to March 2023, the total number of bias incidents investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force across the five boroughs increased by 27 incidents, according to police data

Last week, the NYPD said it is investigating two hate crimes in Manhattan, including one near Columbia University that involved a flag-burning and assault.

Antisemitic incidents across the city, meanwhile, have escalated since the Oct. 7, 2023 terrorist attacks upon Israel, and the resulting war with Hamas in Gaza.

Teaching about hate crimes in NYC is a mandate in public schools

The new education initiative includes five lessons that the city said will  “empower educators to enrich students’ understanding of diversity, sharpen critical thinking skills, and foster a culture of increased civic engagement, all of which are crucial skills for instilling social responsibility.”

Students will learn to identify motives and behaviors that cause hate crimes, examine the impacts of current hate crime trends on communities, and design initiatives that promote inclusion and collective action.

According to a press release, the city legislatively mandates the OPHC to produce a hate crime curriculum for schools. Facing History & Ourselves has trained DOE’s educators on the hate crime curriculum with more training opportunities forthcoming over the next year. 

“Hate has no home in our schools, and we are proud to partner with the OPHC in the fight against bigotry,” Schools Chancellor David Banks said. “We are educating our youth about the dangers of hate both to meet this challenging moment in our world and to build a brighter future for us all.”

Facing History and Ourselves will regularly reexamine these lessons with the OPHC to offer updates and keep them current, the city said. 

“With bigotry and hate on the rise across the globe, including right here in our own community, it is more important than ever that we give teachers and students the tools to discuss these difficult topics in a thoughtful way,” said Pam Haas, executive director of Facing History & Ourselves.