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What Kids Can Do About Online Hate Speech

The internet is a double-edged sword: it offers essential access to information and social connections, but it also exposes users, including children, to forms of online hate speech. It’s crucial that parents and educators equip kids with tools to identify and react appropriately to it.


Keep an Open Dialogue and Guard Against Misinformation


First, parents and teachers should encourage their children to talk about their online experiences and alert an adult when they encounter hate speech. Keeping an open line of communication about what kids are seeing on the internet can help you understand the extent of the issue and offer appropriate guidance. You can also teach older children and teens to guard against misinformation by verifying claims using reputable sources.


Deal With Hate Speech Appropriately


If you’re a parent with a very young child who encounters internet hate speech, consider using parental controls to protect them from it. You can teach older children and students about the following strategies for dealing with hate speech appropriately:


  • Don’t share it. Sharing forms of hateful messaging online not only spreads and normalizes bigotry, but puts kids at risk, since the forwarded messages can be traced back to them.


  • Block it. Depending on who posted the slurs or harmful remarks, it may be best just to block them.


  • Call it out. If your child or teen feels safe doing so, they can confront the poster. 


  • Report it. Websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have reporting mechanisms that allow users to flag inappropriate content for review. As they would with other types of cyberbullies, kids can report hate speech offenders to the administrators of the platform on which the messages appear. This can result in getting the offender’s account suspended.


Community Support


It's not just the responsibility of any one individual to combat hate speech; community involvement is crucial. Schools can organize workshops and seminars that involve students, teachers, and parents. These events can serve as platforms for sharing experiences and strategies for tackling online hate speech.


Although lessons about online hate speech should begin at home, it’s essential that educators have in-depth discussions with students about the sources and effects of hateful messaging and how to cope with it. You can do this in innovative ways that reach multiple grade levels at once by inviting an internet safety expert guest speaker to your next school assembly.


Teach Kids Cybersecurity Awareness With Net Positive


The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens and leaders. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based programs with a focus on those that improve academic engagement, build character, and improve healthy behaviors.


Our Net Positive Program educates K-12 students about digital safety, health, citizenship, and leadership. After participating in our program, students are 97% better prepared to face internet dangers. Contact us to learn more and ask your school to schedule a Net Positive Presentation today!


References


“Great News Websites for Students.” Common Sense Education, www.commonsense.org/education/lists/great-news-websites-for-students. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023. 


“Where Kids Find Hate Online.” Common Sense Media, www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/where-kids-find-hate-online. Accessed 20 Oct. 2023. 



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