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How does hate speech make me feel?

Social and Emotional Learning

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Overview

Any dialogue or interaction between people that focuses on personal characteristics is likely to evoke strong emotional responses, and hate speech is an example of where strong emotions will naturally surface in response to hateful content (through both supporting and opposing views).

Situations involving hate speech can commonly result in a loss of control over emotions, leading to responses and actions that may exacerbate the situation and put one or more of those involved at risk of harm. Developing strategies to recognise these emotions, regulate them and then to take an appropriate action are key skills that young people need to practise in order to begin to tackle online hate content.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.

  • Have you ever lost control of your emotions?
  • What would you do differently in that situation if it occurred again?
  • How do you manage to move from an unregulated state (emotions out of control) to a more regulated state (emotions in control)?

Warm Up 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.”

Take a meta-moment

How meta-moments can help you take back control of your emotions.

Ask the learners for examples from their experiences when they have lost control and said or done something they now regret or feel embarrassed by. Depending on your relationship with the learners, you may need to suggest the the learners use the third person, to distance themselves from the behaviour and preserve anonymity.

“I once heard of this learner who…”

Ask each learner, once they have shared an experience: What would you do differently now if you found yourself in that situation again?

Explain that a meta-moment is a brief step back from the situation, when we pause and think before acting. We ask ourselves, how would my “best self” react in this situation? What strategy can I use so that my actions reflect my best self? Over time and with practice, learners and educators replace ineffective responses with productive and empowering responses to challenging situations. They make better choices, build healthier relationships, and experience greater wellbeing (http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/the-anchors-of-emotionalintelligence/).

Ask the learners to take a look at the image in the slides.

  • How does it make you feel?
  • What emotional change did you experience?
  • How did you manage to move back into a ‘regulated state’ (a neutral state where one’s emotions are under one’s control)?

Discuss the concept of “triggers”. Ask “What do we mean by triggers?” (something that provokes a reaction in us).

Ask learners to give examples of things which make them feel positive (e.g. a mental image of something; seaside, mountains) or an action that triggers positivity (e.g. meta-moment, deep breaths, thinking of a happy memory).

You may wish to record a list for the group.

Share with learners the mood meter grid in the slides - remind them about what it means:

It can be described as a graph with its origin at the centre.

  • Red is high energy negative.
  • Yellow is high energy positive.
  • Blue is low energy negative.
  • Green is low energy positive.

Using the given words, ask the learners to suggest ways in which they would self-regulate away from the damaging emotions towards a more regulated state.

Guide them towards these lists:

Strategies for in the moment (when in an emotional state):

  • Breathing
  • Mindfulness/relaxation
  • Reframing
  • Private self-talk
  • Visualisation
  • Distraction
  • Increasing distance from the situation.

Long-term strategies for those experiencing long term emotional issues:

  • Taking action for a cause or social issue(this is an integral component to the SELMA approach)
  • Meditation
  • Spirituality
  • Physical activity
  • Other hobbies/activities
  • Entertainment - music/TV/games
  • Modify the situation
  • Support from others
  • Finding solutions to the problem
  • Setting goals and achieving them
  • Getting professional help.

Discuss with the learners which strategies they might use to move themselves around the mood meter (i.e. to a more regulated state).

Share the slide about this and ask the learners to record their own strategies for each of the three arrows.

Close this part of the activity by highlighting that using meta-moments effectively can take time and practice and learners shouldn’t feel disheartened if they find this challenging. If it doesn’t work for them, review what happened and what they could have done differently to reduce the conflict and have healthier emotional relationships.

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.”

Introduce learners to the “How hurtful can it be?” game.

Preparation:Print out and cut up the cards ready for use. Make sufficient copies for the learners in your group.

Using the pre-produced cards, learners will select cards from five different piles and work in small groups to make the most/least hateful scenario over three rounds.

The categories are:

  • Speaker- this is the characteristics of the person that is making the hate speech statement.
  • Context - where the conversation is taking place.
  • Audience - who is able to see/hear/participate in the conversation.
  • Target - who is being spoken about in the conversation.
  • Characteristics - what (protected) characteristics are being discussed.

Round 1

As the leader, pre-select one or two categories (depending on the group you’re working with) and allow the learners to then select one card from each of the remaining categories. There should be one card from each category selected.

Round 2

As the leader, constrain the learners to one type of target and allow the learners to then select one card from each of the remaining categories. There should be one card from each category selected.

Round 3

Allow the learners to freely select one card from each category. Do not restrict the cards they may use.

Round 4(Extension)

In this round, encourage learners to make their own cards in order to maximise/minimise how hurtful the scenario could be.

After each round, encourage participants to feed back their thoughts on how they have created their scenario.

Tasks

Using one of the configuration of cards from any of the rounds they have played, ask learners to put themselves in the position of the target and the audience and consider and answer the following questions:

  • How would you feel in this scenario?
  • How might you respond to the speaker and what would you do/say?
  • Would you feel differently if the scenario were more/less hateful?
  • Would you respond differently if the scenario were more/less hateful?
  • What strategies would you use to regulate your emotional state?
  • What are the benefits/drawbacks of regulating your emotional state before responding? (e.g. anger can strongly motivate someone into taking action, but it could result in hasty decisions that make a situation worse.)

Encourage participants to share their answers; in particular how they would respond and the strategies they would use to regulate their emotions.

Outcome Criteria

  • Identify own emotions in a given situation, the possible triggers that would evoke an emotional response, and how to regulate your emotional state.
  • Explore the variables required to create a climate of hate.

Resources

Identify own emotions in a given situation, the possible triggers that would evoke an emotional response and how to regulate your emotional state. Explore the variables required to create a climate of hate.

Resource

ENABLE project Lesson 6 Steering emotions

This activity from ENABLE offers further opportunities to discuss how images can make you feel.

Open

Take a meta-moment

Configuring a climate for hate.

View
Download

How hurtful can it be

Configuring a climate for hate.

View
Download