In ancient times, there were rituals of scapegoating. A tribe or person would literally sacrifice an animal to the gods, or send an animal into the desert declaring that that animal was carrying away the tribe’s sins. In today’s culture, psychology uses the term to discuss certain forms of victimization.
A particular child of an alcoholic family can be deemed the scapegoat, for instance, and may be the object of a parent’s abuse and the reason for seeking professional help. The child is “innocent,” but receives the blame for the problems in the household. Historically, entire groups of people have been scapegoated. In Nazi Germany, Hitler and his army scapegoated the Jewish people.
The Nazis declared the Jews to be the reason for their societal ills and further believed that if they eliminated the Jewish people, then their problems would be solved. Currently in America, there is scapegoating of lesbian and gay people. Some heterosexuals, often with strong religious ties, blame lesbian and gay people for the moral decay in America.