This Week is Hate Crime Awareness Week and today we are focusing on online hate.
We all know the benefits in which the internet can provide and has become an essential means of information, services and it has changed the way that we communicate forever. However, alongside its many valuable resources, the online world also has a darker side and can host offensive and hateful content, which can do harm and spread fear to individuals, groups and local communities.
Legislation is in place that aims to balance freedom of expression, with the right to be free from hate crime. Online hate is any online communication or expression (whether it comprises words, pictures, videos or music), which encourages or promotes hatred, discrimination or prejudice towards a person’s race, religion, disability, alternative subculture, sexual orientation or gender identity. Online content on websites, social networks and chatrooms can also be unlawful if threatening or harassing behaviour is taking place to a person or group of people.
Helping young people recognise and respond to online hate
Young people are connected more than ever before and while this can be a huge benefit in linking them with friends, loved ones and knowledge, it can of course, also be problematic in that they are exposed to information which they may not have the critical skills to filter and navigate.
Children and young people are especially vulnerable to online hate as many are looking for groups or causes that will give them a sense of identity.
Victims of online hate may show:
Increased anxiety and feelings of fear and insecurity.
Feeling lonely or isolated.
Feeling embarrassed, so may try to deal with the problem themselves.
A sudden impact on their school work.
Tips to support a child
The best way to protect your child from online hate and trolling is to take an active interest in how they socialise on and offline. Have meaningful conversations with them to develop their critical thinking is essential.
Everyone needs to develop good online behaviour, make sure they know to treat others as they want to be treated. Promote respect for diversity as a social norm. Address hurtful and offensive comments when they happen. As a parent/carer, you have the power to influence how a young person behaves toward others.
Advise them not to spread hateful or threatening content online, but encourage them to report it.
Tell them not to say something online that they would not say face to face and remind them that once posted it is out there for all to see.
Find out what platforms they are using and if they know how to report if anything happens. Ensure they are aware of the community guides on the platforms they use, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Have these conversations regularly rather than wait for a problem to occur and ensure they know they can come to you with any problems and you will be there to support them.
Ask them if they know about online hate, if they would be able to recognise it on a website.
Encourage your children to have an open attitude and honest curiosity about other people, because some instance of hate speech are based on ignorance or false information – tell them it's ok to ask questions.
Look for terms that might creep into your child’s vocabulary. Sometimes kids (and adults) use harmful terms without realising.
Reporting online hate
The majority of platforms have guidelines and policies on hate speech, which outline what is and isn’t allowed on the platform. If a user breaks these rules their account can be blocked or removed from the platform. Some platforms, such as our own, block certain words from being used - as well as using comment monitors to spot harmful content, so it’s picked up early on.
A lot of the policing of hate speech on social channels relies on users reporting it to the platform, so action can be taken. If you have experienced or witnessed something you believe is an Online Hate Crime or Online Hate Speech, there are some simple steps you can take and people you can talk to:
Take a screen shot (often this is done by pressing the 'print screen' key on a keyboard or by holding down the relevant button on your mobile phone and pasting it into a document). This can be handy to use when making a report to make a record of the incident.
Check your privacy settings, only allowed trusted friends and family to be able to view and access your account information.
Use the ‘Report’ functions available to users of the platform where you’ve seen Hate Speech. These providers, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. can remove the post and potentially suspend or remove the users account if it is in breach of the platforms ‘community standards’.
Discuss your options. If you are not sure whether the online incident has broken the law, and you want to talk about it with someone else first, Stop Hate UK can offer information, advice and support to people affected by Hate Crime. They will take reports anonymously if you don’t want to share your name or personal information.
Visit our Anti-Social Behaviour Hub, which has an array of information on reporting methods, support available and how we tackle these incidents.
Report to the police. If you think the post is criminal, you may wish to report the incident to the police for criminal investigation. This can be done online via our website.
If there is immediate danger to you or another person, call 999.