May 21, 2019

“Law & Order: Hate Crimes” Hopes to Spark a National Dialogue

“Several years ago, researchers at Washington State University sent out a survey to freshmen, asking about their views on sexual assault. In the same survey, they asked the students what crime shows they watched on TV.

Their findings, published in 2015, indicated that, for many students, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” may have provided an education of its own. The survey found the NBC show had an overall positive effect on students’ understanding of consent and sexual assault — issues that many universities have been grappling with for years.

Although the researchers couldn’t prove causation, they found students who watched the show “were less likely to buy into rape myths, more likely to adhere to their partner’s decision about whether or not to have sex, and more likely to say no themselves to sexual activity they did not want,” The Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera reported.

Now, the show’s creators, Dick Wolf and Warren Leight, are taking on another topic that’s plucked from the headlines — and likely to lead to controversy. “Law & Order: Hate Crimes” will air on NBC at a yet-to-be-determined date, the network announced Tuesday.

In a statement, Wolf credited SVU for starting conversations about rape and sexual assault, and expressed hope the spinoff would have a similar effect.”

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