A new survey has determined that more than five times as many hate-related incidents occurred in Howard County this year than were reported to authorities.
The survey, the results of which were released yesterday at a human rights conference in Columbia, found that 391 incidents occurred this year in which residents were victimized because of race, religion, ethnicity or gender.
But only 72 incidents had been reported to the Howard County Office of Human Rights, which conducted the recent survey of county residents.
Survey questionnaires were distributed at various locations throughout the county.
Cynthia Harvey, county human rights administrator, said she was stunned by the number of incidents that had gone unreported to authorities.
Thirty-seven percent of the respondents who did not report the incidents said they wanted to forget about it and 17 percent did not know where to go.
Of the incidents, 42 percent stemmed from racial problems, 13 percent were gender-based and 8 percent were due to religious differences, according to the survey.
The conference at the Maryland School for the Deaf's Columbia Campus was designed to find ways to curb racial, ethnic and religious violence, which has risen in Howard County in recent years.
In one small discussion group at the conference, participants suggested that teachers, parents and religious institutions increase instruction about tolerance for others, that more sensitivity training be given to government workers and police officers and that the Human Rights office track progress on relations between groups.
Earlier, the 200 participants listened to Thomas Martinez, a former member of two white supremacist organizations, recall growing up with hate for blacks and Jews. He now preaches against racism and anti-Semitism.