Pathway 1: Peer mentoring – campaign focus

In order to come up with ideas or solutions against hate speech, young people first need to understand the phenomenon, how it makes people feel and how we can deal with it and counter it. The SELMA Toolkit enables young people to handle hate speech both on a personal level, as part of their (peer) group and on a societal level. The latter aspect is essential when you are ambitious, and truly aim to change the world.

In this section, we identify a number of SELMA modules which directly touch upon the mechanisms of online hate, and how social media platform features come into play, while offering some alternative solutions and strategies also.

Please note that by no means we are trying to be restrictive; SELMA has been designed as an open and flexible framework which gives you as much flexibility as you want or need to build towards effective and efficient pathways of change. The SELMA journeys we have articulated below have been developed for illustrative purposes.

In this pathway, we assume that young people first need to deal with the topic of online hate speech to understand what it is, to place it in context and to be able to define it before moving to activities where they raise awareness, produce their own counter narrative campaigns, while learning to plan actions together with their peers. Although the focus in this pathway is on peer mentoring, an adult trainer needs to be involved to support young people to develop ideas for peer projects. In particular, activity 1 and 3 are targeted at peer mentors directly whereas activity 2 and 4 help young people to address these topics together with their peers.

More specifically:

  • Step 1: Before planning an outreach activity with young people it is crucial that peer mentors understand what hate speech is and get familiar with the SELMA SEL-Approach. Therefore the activity ‘Matching emotions to hate speech’ activity in ‘Theme 1’ ‘SEL’, could be a good starting point for this pathway.
  • Step 2: As a next step, the ‘Understanding hate speech’ activity in ‘Theme 1’ ‘SEL’ offers a concrete idea of how peer mentors can address the problem of hate speech in their environment, while drawing upon their peer community to maximise impact. The main activity includes a survey they could use in their school to measure the exposure to hate speech in their environment. With the results of the survey they can start thinking about possible next steps to address the topic in their community.
  • Step 3: One way of doing so is the ‘Theme 6’ ‘Create a counter-narrative campaign’ activity with a ‘Media Production’ focus. Here, participants get to know what a counter narrative is and how it can be used to fight online hate. This activity includes a planning sheet with important criteria to develop a campaign. As most young people haven’t done awareness raising before the sheet points out all important aspects they should consider for their campaign. If there is enough time you might produce content or talk about content creation among peers.
  • Step 4: In ‘Theme 6’, the ‘Seriously rapid planning’ activity again brings in the ‘Peer Mentoring’ focus. Peer mentors will learn to define their messages, audiences and goals to successfully plan their own campaigns. The focus of this scenario is on understanding online hate speech and thinking about ways to increase awareness by planning a campaign. One goal is to activate young people to raise their voice and affect change in their community.

Of course this pathway can be extended, for instance with additional activities from across all nine themes with a ‘Media Production’ focus – this will help young people to explore their creative and develop their own products. Meanwhile ‘Theme 7-9’ delves further into activism and campaigning, empowering young people to have a broader impact.