How can I influence my people?


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Why this theme?

Young people, in line with adults, will often come across, or directly experience online hate speech. Many of those young people, again, like adults, will not agree with, or want to see such commentary. Yet, in conversation with young people, it is the case the young people themselves are also creating, disseminating and being influenced by such messages. It would seem logical to support those young people who have a voice and opportunity to campaign against hate speech. In the first instance it is “safer” to do this within their own circle of friends - both on and offline. This will provide an opportunity to refine messages and approaches, without the risk of exposure to large-scale online hate speech. This theme begins to equip young people in the skills, strategies and approaches required to run a successful campaign.

Research Evidence

The recognition of images, words and expressions or symbols which explicitly or implicitly express racism or discrimination in our everyday social and professional life, as well as in the media, is an important step towards combating online hate speech. Awareness, education, information and cultural campaigns should be organised (McGonagle T, 2016; Iszak, 2015) and media literacy should be promoted (Iszak, 2015), in order for the young people to be able to recognise, reject and react to messages of hatred through the internet... Society and civil society organisations also have a crucial role in the prevention of online hate speech by developing counter-actions and counter-speech, promoting non-discrimination and tolerance, and raising awareness towards the phenomenon through activities and campaigns (Perry and Olsson, 2009; Iszak, 2015).

Research discloses that there are already a number of hate speech campaigns running in partner countries, with a range of approaches and impact on young people, for example:

  • Be Greater than a Hater - Scottish Police campaign targeting young people
  • Hack Hadet - Young people from across Denmark were encouraged to participate in Hackathons.

Both of these examples were instigated by departments or organisations tasked with reducing hate crime/speech. It is admirable that these campaigns were created, but one noticeable omission is youth voice. A wealth of evidence exists that demonstrates the benefits of peer-to-peer working and, it can be argued, that campaigns for young people, by young people, are more likely to resonate and have the desired impact.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topics in this theme.

  • If you wanted to someone to agree with your point of view…
    • ...who would you try to convince first?
    • you you try to convince them - what approach would you take?
    • ...would you use different approaches for different people? Why/why not?
    • ...would you try to convince someone who holds the opposite opinion to you? Why/why not?
    • ...what would you do if your first attempt failed?
  • What qualities does a person need to convince/persuade others?
  • What tools/resources might be needed to convince/persuade others…
    • ...offline?

Outcome Criteria

  • To learn how to structure and plan a campaign.
  • Recognise the skills and attributes a person needs to affect change.
  • Understand and develop strategies to affect change in a group or online.
  • Understand the purpose of a counter-narrative.