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UNICEF Serbia national ambassadors support fight against digital violence and support Facebook campaign “Choose your words and stop hate speech”

BELGRADE, 25 October 2013 – A workshop for primary and secondary school students has been held today within the project Stop Digital Violence implemented by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, and Telenor. During the workshop, students from schools participating in the School Without Violence programme were informed about the Facebook page Choose Your Words, Stop Hate Speech and provided their ideas about how to become active on social networks and raise their voice against violence and for non-violence. UNICEF Serbia National Ambassadors – Aleksandar Sasa Djordjevic, Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic – supported them.

Sasa Djordjevic joined the workshop and addressed the students. “It’s not easy to be number one and step out from the group – even when you have the best of intentions and you’re doing it for the best of causes. The fear of being judged by your environment may be an obstacle for some people, but for others – it is a motivation. I could’ve never tried to score a three-pointer in the last second of the match, because if I miss, the pressure is awful. But I never hesitated... Luckily. So just step forward, do it, try it... Your voice must be heard. You can change the world. That’s why you should start right now...", Sasa Djordjevic told the students who were also joined by the representatives of the Youth Panel, of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, and  of the  Ombudsman.

Ana Ivanovic joined the campaign as an active participant. She published her first blog on the Facebook page Choose Your Words, Stop Hate Speech and on her website. She says: “I love social networks, and I use them frequently. I like sharing good news, positive energy, nice photos, a big smile, my world, and communicating with my friends and people who support me. I like people who use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc, in the same way as I do. The world can be a nice place if we think nice thoughts, do nice things, and write nice things. And it is only up to us to make the world such a place.”

With the motto “Share smiles and choose words on social networks and digital platforms“, the participants  agreed to use Facebook and their blogs to share with their peers good examples of activities that help them to become better friends and to cooperate more closely with their teachers; activities that promote diversity and tolerance; as well as those activities that inform about digital violence and bullying and help them to identify it and prevent it.

Opening of the "Stop Digital Violence" workshop in Belgrade - UNICEF Serbia / Zoran Jovanovic Maccak / 2013

To be able to step out from their comfort zone and become leaders during a difficult process of change, young people need to join forces and to get support. To help them achieve this goal, workshops for youth peer educators are being held and the Facebook campaign Choose Your Words, Stop Hate Speech has been created.“

A true leader always takes responsibility. These responsible young people will become leaders and creators of a better system of values because it is them who will motivate their peers to stop digital violence”, Novak Djokovic commented on his official and the Facebook page.

Marko Zuber, a workshop participant from the Belgrade General-Programme Secondary School and a peer educator, said: “We will make use of modern communication technologies and our knowledge to show our peers how to use the Internet safely and explain to them why it is important to help others. We will share with them some examples of bad practice and what we have learnt from them. We will also talk to teachers and parents about how they can help us, because although we know more about the digital world than they do, their life experience is precious to us“.

Students from 30 primary and secondary schools from Belgrade have agreed today to involve as many of their friends as possible in this campaign. They have invited all the schools to join them, and asked teachers to join them in promoting the values of non-violence and to always react when violence happens and when there is an indication that it could happen.

About the project “Stop Digital Violence”

The Project has been implemented as part of a tripartite agreement signed between the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (Violence Prevention Unit), Telenor, and UNICEF since October 2012. It was created as one of system responses to an increasing availability and utilisation of digital technologies among children and adolescents and to increased risks of exposure to digital violence. The Project goal is to raise the awareness of students, teachers, and parents of new forms of violence on digital platforms, to inform them about adequate manners of protection, and to help them acquire the skills for reacting to situations when violence occurs.

The Facebook page “Choose Your Words, Stop Hate Speech” has been created within this Project, where information on various forms of Internet violence is posted and where questions and dilemmas regarding digital violence encountered by children and youth are answered and solved.

For more information, please contact: 

Jadranka Milanovic
Communication Officer
Tel +381 11 3602 100



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