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What is hate speech?

Peer Mentoring

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Recap

SEL activities in this theme have focused on: building an emotional vocabulary; identifying examples of hate speech and rating their emotional intensity from a personal perspective; understanding the concept of “protected characteristics” and building them into an agreed definition of hate speech for your group.

The Media production unit has then offered opportunities to use a variety of routes to express and communicate that definition with the immediate community.

The Citizenship unit has explored the steps by which individuals identify with and adopt the identity of a group (social identification) and how a group will display prejudice and discrimination towards a rival group to enhance its own self-identity and appear superior by comparison.

Main Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

Activity 1: Understanding hate speech

What you will need:

Preparation:

  • Explain to young people that, as part of efforts to address hate speech, they are going to be participating in an activity designed to capture their community’s understanding of what “hate speech” is.
  • It’s important that learners feel safe, comfortable and warmed up before participating in an activity. Check out our handy “How to” guide for general recommendations on how to introduce the peer-mentoring activities.

Instructions:

  1. Explain to learners that, before they can truly hack hate, they need to understand the nature of the problem in their school.
  2. Explain to students what we mean by "hacking" in this context by quoting Catherine Bracy:
    "Hacking is any amateur innovation on an existing system, and it is a deeply democratic activity. It's about critical thinking. It's about questioning existing ways of doing things. It's the idea that if you see a problem, you work to fix it, and not just complain about it."
    Catherine Bracy, TechEquity Collaborative
    In the SELMA project, the phrase "hacking hate" is used to explain the fact that to really make a change, you need to deeply understand a problem and then use that as a foundation for coming up with creative and effective ways to address it. The "Hacking Hate" survey is a tool to help you to begin to understand the problem of online hate speech as it relates to your school.
  3. To do this, they should distribute The Hacking Hate Survey among learners in their year group and others. Explain that they should speak to a teacher who will be able to help make sure as many learners answer as possible. It will only take five minutes - but it will give learners lots of valuable information! They should collect the surveys and keep them safe.
  4. Explain that, once they’ve collected the surveys, it’s time to get an overview of the replies. Each individual survey provides important information - putting them together lets you build a bigger picture. Invite them to use the spreadsheet provided. They should follow the instructions (see the “Instructions” tab) and, once they’ve finished inputting the replies in the “Survey results” sheet, check out the dashboard tab which automatically updates based on the results they input. There’s their picture!
  5. Explain that, now that they have the bigger picture, the question is: what do we do with it? Use it to inform our work! Let’s say learners noticed that lots of their peers didn’t actually know what hate speech was - their goal is to help them to understand. There’s lots of ways they can do this:
    • Get a slot at the next school assembly to report back the survey results (think of fun ways to present them - the graphs in the dashboard should help, but get creative!). They could tell their peers that, for instance, the survey results showed that more than half of learners don’t know what hate speech is - so they wanted to address this.
    • Use the material they created in the Media production unit to present the definition in a fun and engaging way. Can they put on a short play? Are they going to create a rap?
    • Or, say the results showed that learners’ peers do know what hate speech is, and that they think it’s a problem in the school, here’s the learners’ chance to raise awareness about that. Each learner answered their survey individually - they might not know that lots of other learners also think hate speech is an issue. It’s a big first step to raise awareness about this fact.

Activity 2: SEL: Breaking down walls

Note: This activity is reliant on having done the SEL warm-up activity for this theme.

What you will need:

  • The SEL warm-up activity resources for reference
  • The 'Emotion words' resource (The number of copies will depend on how many groups you'll split students into - there should be one pack of 'Emotion words' for each group)
  • Reflection cards resource (one card per individual student)
  • A free wall or board for students to create their matrix and attach their emotion words to
  • Blue tac or velcro to attach the cards onto the matrix

Preparation:

  • Explain to young people that, as part of efforts to understand how hate speech can make people feel, they are going to be thinking about different words to describe a variety of emotions, and how these relate to their own experiences.
  • It’s important that learners feel safe, comfortable and warmed up before participating in an activity. Check out our handy “How to” guide for general recommendations on how to introduce the peer-mentoring activities.

Instructions:

  1. Explain to learners that as part of their SEL warm-up activity, they learned the power of expanding their emotional vocabulary. Now it’s time to share that power with their peers! In this activity, learners will work with their peers to place different emotion words on a matrix to describe whether the emotion is positive, negative, and how intense it is. The aim of this activity is to give learners a more diverse emotional vocabulary and to relate these to their own experiences.
  2. First, they should find a wall or noticeboard that their teachers are happy for them to use. Using printed signs and colourful pieces of paper, they should re-create the matrix used in the SEL warm-up activity during training, print off the emotion words and use Blu-Tack or velcro so that they can be stuck on the matrix.
  3. Tell learners to invite other learners to gather at this wall for a 20-minute session - aiming for approximately 10 participants. Learners should take a copy of the completed task they did during their SEL warm activity as guidance. During this session, learners will:
    • Explain what the matrix is and how it works (drawing on what they learned during their SEL warm-up activity).
    • Split learners up into two groups and give them 10 emotion words each. Give them five minutes to place the words on the matrix.
    • Bring learners together and talk through where they have placed each word and why. Tell learners that they should be prepared to define any of the words if learners ask.
    • Explain to learners that it is helpful for us to have more words to describe our emotions than just “happy” or “sad”. Coping with emotions requires that we first understand them and are able to use different words to describe emotions of different intensities.
    • Distribute reflection cards to everyone who attended. On this card, learners will be asked to write down one of the 20 emotion words that they were not very, or not at all, familiar with before the activity. They will also be asked to briefly describe a time where they have felt that way. Any learners who wish to, should be invited to stick their reflection cards on the wall beside the matrix.
    • If your school allows it, this can become the designated wall for this emotional learning exercise, and learners can add new emotional vocabulary words over time to keep refreshing it (see slide 7 of your warm-up activity for a whole range of options).

2b. Optional extra: If they have time, learners can begin this activity with a warm up where their peers are asked to divide the words into categories “Positive”, “Negative” or “Neither positive nor negative” before moving onto the matrix game. They could use three buckets, and attach labels to them, for learners to insert the words into.

Outcome Criteria

  • Understand the nature and scale of hate speech problems in the immediate environment.
  • Expand emotional vocabulary, relating newly-discovered words to own lived experiences.

Resources

Understand the nature and scale of hate speech problem in immediate environment. Expand emotional vocabulary, relating newly discovered words to own lived experiences.

Resource

Is there a hate speech problem, really? - Survey

Investigating and understanding the nature and scale of hate speech problem in immediate environment.

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Download

Is there a hate speech problem, really? - Analysis tool

Investigating and understanding the nature and scale of hate speech problem in immediate environment.

Open

Talking about my emotions - Emotion words

Exploring new words to describe young people’s emotional experiences.

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Open

Talking about my emotions - Reflection card

Expanding emotional vocabulary, relating newly discovered words to own lived experiences.

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Open

Talking about my emotions - Word categories

Exploring new words to describe young people’s emotional experiences.

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Open