TRENTON — A quarter of New Jersey's bias crimes — those motivated by prejudice against others — were committed by individuals under the age of 18, according to the latest numbers from the State Police.

teenager under arrest

That statistic was enough to launch an aggressive effort from the Office of the Attorney General. Anti-bias training for students could be coming soon to a school near you.

"It's an audience that's not being tapped statewide and we believe, based on these statistics, that it needs to be," Attorney General Christopher Porrino told the Townsquare News Network.

A pilot run for the training was hosted on Tuesday in front of law enforcement, community leaders and members of school administration, among others.

The training is still in development, according to Porrino, but he believes it will roll out to grade schools and high schools "in the near future."

"As quickly as we could possibly get it out, we will," Porrino said. "We are trying to help kids understand the harm that is inflicted by these influences, and if they understand the damage that they can do by engaging in hate-related conduct or speech, we believe we can have an impact in curbing that kind of behavior."

Porrino noted bigotry is not hereditary, but appears to "infect" individuals at a young age.

Bias-crime figures show 35 of the 159 offenders in 2015 were between the ages of 11 and 17. Another 5 offenders were aged 10 or under.

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