Assaults on homeless people often fall below the radar of media coverage and public consciousness, but a new report shows that this type of crime is more prevalent than ever in the United States.
In their new report, "Hate, Violence, And Death On Main Street USA," the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that attacks against homeless people in the United States rose by 13 percent from 2006 to 2007. However, the actual number of attacks is probably even higher, because many are never reported.
The perpetrators of these crimes are often teenage boys identified as "thrill seekers." According to the report, 64 percent of the perpetrators of attacks on homeless people in 2007 were teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19.
Motives for attacks against homeless people are hard to pinpoint, but people who are homeless are particularly vulnerable because they don't have a safe place to go to avoid potential attackers. The report states: "regardless of whether the motive of the perpetrators was that of opportunity or of bias against homeless persons, homeless persons continue to remain particularly vulnerable victims due to the nature of homelessness."
Several states have introduced legislation that would extend hate crimes protections that enhance penalties to the homeless, including the three states with the greatest number of attacks in 2007, Florida, California, and Nevada.