New Jersey is experiencing a worrying uptick in hate crimes and incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying within its schools, according to new data from the FBI. The latest findings indicate nearly double the incidents of hate crimes compared to five years ago, with bullying incidents in the 2021-2022 academic year reaching the highest level since the state began its monitoring efforts.
The state has seen a fourfold increase in bias-based incidents from 2018 to 2023, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. The return to in-person education post-pandemic saw a significant rise in bias incidents at elementary schools, from 96 in 2020 to 207 in 2021.
This data is outlined in New Jersey’s 2023 Anti-Bullying Task Force report.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) separately noted a sharp increase in antisemitic incidents at New Jersey schools, documenting 190 incidents in the state between October 7 and October 31, with 29 of those incidents occurring inside schools.
The 2022 statistics reveal that 281 hate crimes were reported in New Jersey’s educational institutions, spanning K-12 schools to colleges and universities. Additionally, the 2021-2022 school year saw 7,672 confirmed cases of harassment, intimidation, or bullying. Experts warn that these figures likely fall short of the actual number of incidents, as many go unreported.
In light of the sharp increase in antisemitism, particularly following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the urgency to address these concerns has been magnified. The task force’s 2023 report proposes several measures, including establishing a dedicated office within the Department of Education to specifically focus on school culture and environment, to ensure all students feel safe and supported.