UNICEF young reporters in the fight against hate speech
PODGORICA, 17 June 2022 – Quality education is the best way to combat hate speech – UNICEF young reporters said on the occasion of marking International Day Against Hate Speech (18 June).
The young reporters were commenting on graffiti that contain insulting comments and hate messages, which they can see in their immediate surroundings.
Milena Keković says that she is not surprised by such a phenomenon because she often comes across it in the online world, where young people spend a lot of their time.
“I think that the only way to reduce hate speech is to educate children and adults about the community we live in and learn to respect those whose beliefs differ from our own. Everyone can help by leading by example and showing that hate speech should never be a choice,” the young reporter said.
According to Andrej Šljivančanin, it is crucial to prevent hate speech in public from leaving lasting consequences on the development of young people.
“Adolescents are still in the phase when they are developing, and a large amount of negativity can create long-term problems for my peers. We must prevent hate speech in order to create a society where adolescents can develop normally,” Andrej points out.
Aleksandra Vujović herself is not surprised by the number of ugly messages on walls in our cities.
“We mostly ignore such graffiti because it has become too common. We have forgotten that they, in fact, showcase hatred and that their only goal is to hurt and humiliate someone,” Aleksandra said.
She also referred to online hatred and called on young people to take action. “By spreading positive comments and reporting negative ones, we can significantly contribute to solving this problem,” Aleksandra is convinced.
According to the 2020 UNICEF global analysis “Digital Civic Engagement by Young People”, harassment of young activists online is perpetrated not only by their peers. Youth activists are often victims of harassment by adults or bots created by adults.
“If teens want their message to be heard by adults and not only by their peers, they are more likely to use platforms designed primarily for adult users, that do not systematically censor trolling and abusive or hate speech,” the analysis said.
That is why the message of this UNICEF research is that we must observe the habits and practices of young people in the digital ecosystem in order to understand their aspirations and expressions in the offline world.
This year, the United Nations (UN) is celebrating International Day Against Hate Speech, 18 June – the date on which, three years ago, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
UN agencies in Montenegro are marking the occasion with the message: #StopTheHate, while UNICEF young reporters have joined the fight against hate speech to help create a healthier society for every child.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.