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Reporting Racism & Showing Respect

A recent survey conducted by Natterhub shows that by the time children reach the age of 10, they consider cyberbullying and online incidents worse than in-person ones. It’s clear therefore that the younger generation grasps the volume and weight of hateful online activities, but do they always recognise it? Can children decide what constitutes an online hate crime, abuse or racism in the UK? And if so, do they know who to turn to and how to report these? 


How to report online racism and abuse in the UK

While the internet is a great tool, providing endless opportunities to explore, learn and communicate, it also has its potential risks. Children are especially vulnerable when it comes to online activities, using social media, encountering false information or experiencing cyberbullying. One of the ugliest examples of the latter is an online hate crime or hate incident. It’s important to teach children how to recognise and report these. But first, let’s start with the basics.


What is a hate crime?

When an incident happens that is motivated by hate and the person is targeted because of their disability, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, or gender identity, we talk about a hate crime or a hate incident. It is important to note that we still label these incidents to be motivated by hate, even if the targeted person does not belong to the group the attacker assume they do. Similarly, if the targeted person feel an incident was driven by hate but the attacker says otherwise, it is still considered to be a hate crime.

But not everything meet the threshold to register as a hate crime. Most cases of online racism and abuse classify as ‘hate incident’. However, just because there won’t be a criminal case from these, that does not mean we cannot report it. And report it, we should! The question is how?

There are a number of options you can choose from when you report an online hate crime or hate incident. But keep in mind that giving sufficient evidence is vital, so make sure to save the link to the hateful content or better yet, take a screenshot of it in case it would disappear later on. Now let’s see some of the most important websites you can turn to if you’d like to report an online hate crime.

  • True Vision is a police-funded site in the UK where you can report incidents you think are criminal. They give all types of information to victims and witnesses experiencing a hate crime as well as provide guidance on online safety, domestic abuse and how to report online abuse to the authorities.
  • Report Harmful Content offers a large variety of online content types that go beyond hate crimes. See their reporting platform here.
  • The Metropolitan Police also has an online reporting system, which you can find here.
  • Stop Hate UK offers independent hate crime reporting services for both off- and online abuse. You can call, text and email them 24/7 in addition to their online form and live chat systems.
  • If you would rather talk to someone and ask for advice on what to do, turn to Childline. They will be happy to discuss anything online or over the phone.
  • You can also call 101 or 999 in case of an emergency.

According to a recent report published by Ofcom, 70% of children aged 12-15 are aware of how to report an issue online, but only 14% did actually do it in 2020-21 so far. Therefore, it is clear that while we still have to educate children on the how, we also need to make sure they understand the why. Why is it so important that we report online abuse and racism when we encounter them?

In a nutshell, we report hateful online behaviour to prevent it from happening again in the future. Sites can remove the content, block or delete their creator, or ban them forever. By taking actions, we also stand by those who got targeted, offering them support as well as send a message to everyone else to think twice before they share something hateful.

Nonetheless, it could still happen that a child knows why it’s important to report a certain comment and how to do so, but they decide not to.

  • Children might not register that something is offensive; they might not realise if a joke goes too far or when stereotyping turns into racism. 
  • Children might feel uncomfortable with telling on others, not wanting to be a tattle-tale.
  • Children might be afraid of the repercussions from their peers if they found out that they reported something.
  • Children might feel intimidated by going through the official process of reporting online abuse.
  • Children might not have a trusted adult they can turn to in situations like this.

When it comes to reporting online abuse, it’s crucial that children have trusted adults they can turn to. These can be parents, teachers or carers the young ones rely on in difficult situations. They can clarify if something they saw is in fact wrong and support them all the way or reporting the incident. Certain platforms like True Vision also allow children to submit their reports via a trusted adult, making the process less frightening.

As long as children have someone they can talk to about their concerns, fears and pains, we’re one step closer to tackle online hate and abuse.


How to report online hate crime on social media

Most social media sites and applications have a system to report hateful activities and comments. Although these will vary from one another, it’s definitely worth doing what we can to stop the spread of online hatred. See how you can report incidents on the most popular social media sites. And never forget to educate children on how to be safe online, with the emphasis on using social media sites. If you can use some help, Natterhub collected seven things to keep in mind.


Posts on Facebook feature a logo with three dots in the upper right corner of the post. If a post includes hateful content, users can click on this logo and select ‘Hate Speech’ under the ‘Find Support or Report Post’ option. 


Like Facebook, Twitter’s posts also feature a three dot logo in the upper right corner of tweets. By selecting this button, users can specify that a tweet is “abusive or harmful”. 


By holding a finger on the hateful content, users will be given a 'Report' option, where they can further select reasons like ‘Hate Speech’ and ‘Harassment’.


Instagram offers users the ability to report both posted content and comments. To report comments, users can slide them to the left and select the exclamation symbol. This will lead users to a reporting menu where they can give further details. This reporting menu can also be accessed on stories or posts by selecting the three dot icon.


Snapchat allows you to block both a friend or someone who added you on the platform. To do the former, go into the menu, select ‘My Friends’, find the person you would like to part ways with, swipe right across their name and delete them. For the latter, tap ‘added me’ on the profile screen, tap on the wheel icon by their names and block them. In these ways, they will not be able to see your content or contact you.


If you see or hear something on YouTube that you find possibly offensive, simply flag the video by clicking on the little flag at the bottom right of the video. YouTube then will decide whether to remove the content or not.


On WhatsApp, you can easily block someone by finding their name, then choosing the option to block them in the drop-down menu.


Help children recognise online hate incidents

While it can be easy to spot a hateful comment or a racist image for adults, children may very well struggle with recognising harmful and insensitive content online. The lack of experience, knowledge or variety in people surrounding them could result in innocent ignorance that makes it hard for them to see certain incidents for that they are.

Hence, it’s important to talk to children about these, to show them examples and to practice recognising harmful online behaviours. They might find a racist meme funny because they don’t really think about the meaning behind it. Or use a stereotype without knowing the cultural, social or religious context that makes a comment insensitive or rude.

Help children realise and report negative online behaviour with the help of Natterhub’s lessons in the topic for parents with KS1 and KS2 children.


Online racism and the Euro 2020

The now infamous Euro 2020 Final between England and Italy saw many mixed emotions online. While many of us celebrated the incredible achievements of England’s players, some individuals chose to direct hateful and racist messages towards Black members of England’s team. The social media channels were flooded with online racism; being visible to everyone, including children. And while these shameful actions were a disgrace, they once again turned our attention to the importance of being kind and respectful online.


As Natterhub’s Co-founder Caroline Allams said, “There is still so much to celebrate from the performance of the England team last night. And so much still to learn about using social media when dealing with disappointment.” Amid this surge of hateful language online, it’s important for children to be reminded that the perpetuation of racist language or beliefs - whether online or in person - is never acceptable, no matter what the circumstances are.

Disappointingly, the bigoted beliefs of a noisy few have overshadowed the success of what most would agree has been a unifying and inspirational month of footballing success. Children, who live a blended on/offline life, are shaped by behaviours and attitudes online. Following the football final, they have witnessed how effortlessly disrespectful language can spread online, and how easy it is to remain unaccountable and unidentifiable. Lessons need to be learned, and conversations need to be had to eradicate a ‘perceived permission’ for this behaviour. But where to start?

It is our responsibility to teach children how to recognise online abuse and hate, and how to report racism and hate crimes on social media or to the relevant bodies in the UK. But what about incidents children rather not report to the authorities? We need to help them understand that no matter how insignificant they feel a comment or act was, it is alright to get upset, and it’s important not to engage but talk to someone about it.


What children can do if they encounter racism online

There are several steps children and parents can take to combat racism online directly, and spread goodness online instead of hateful language. When encountering racist content, children can follow the GOOD acronym: 

  • Goodbye: If a person’s hateful language online makes a child feel uncomfortable, it is perfectly acceptable for them to say ‘goodbye’ - they can disengage with the individual or block them if necessary.
  • Open up: After encountering hateful content, it is helpful for a child to open up to a trusted adult. This not only allows adults to take any necessary actions to stop the spread of this content, but allows them to talk meaningfully with their child about what they saw. 
  • Opportunity to learn: One of the best ways for children to move forward from encountering racist language online is to actively learn more about racism. A child may instinctively sense that certain statements online are incredibly harmful - but their hurtful nature can be combated by using them as an opportunity to learn about inclusiveness and equality. 
  • Deter: If a child interacts with an individual online who expresses racist or hateful beliefs, they can deter these actions by reporting them or the posts. For advice on how to report on different platforms, see Natterhub’s guide above.

How to show respect and be kind online

Children can better understand how serious the issue of online racism is by first learning about the importance of showing respect and being kind online. By learning how to communicate respectfully on the internet, children become increasingly able to detect when others are being unkind online. Being respectful and kind online therefore not only keeps others safe, but keeps your child safe too by encouraging them to be proactive and aware. If you’d like to encourage your child to be kind, why not try these Kindness Checklists made by Natterhub?

There are many ways to show respect virtually, and learning these skills helps children diffuse instances of hateful language. Children can be encouraged to make respect a lifestyle by learning empathy, considering their digital footprint, and observing role model use of social media. 

  • Learning empathy: When learning how to stay safe on social media, Natterhub emphasises the importance of teaching empathy to children as a way to keep everyone safe online. Teaching children empathy encourages children to consider the person behind the computer screen - how might they feel about hurtful words?

  • The digital footprint: When teaching children what not to do on the internet, it’s also important to remind them of their digital footprint. In the vast spaces of social media, it’s easy for children to believe that what they say online won’t matter in the long run. This isn’t the case - not only do damaging words have immediate impacts, but it’s almost impossible to ensure something that’s been deleted on the internet is truly ‘gone’. Children should be encouraged to consider who their words might hurt before putting them online, because they could remain online for years to come. 
  • Role model good use of social media and digital communications in school: We know the power that modelling can have in teaching and learning. Provide children with a safe space to learn the genre of social media and raise the profile of kindness, compassion and open mindedness.

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