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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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