Aims/objectives

  • to learn what Hate Speech is about
  • to understand the powerful right of Freedom of Speech
  • to find strategies on how to fight Hate Speech on different levels (personal, structural, political)

Material needed

  • 4 signs written on A4 paper
  • poster/flipchart and markers to note down interesting and inspiring thoughts/comments

Preparation

Make 4 signs on pieces of A4 paper and stick each one in a different corner of the room. The signs should read:

  • Nothing
  • Respond to the bully
  • Report the behaviour
  • Something else

Make sure there is enough space for participants to move around the room.

Step by step description

  1. Start by asking participants what they understand by bullying. Prompt them to think about different ways people might bully others.
     
  2. Point out the signs in the corners of the room and explain that you will read out a number of different scenarios. Everyone should choose which of the following options best fits what they would do:
    – Do nothing
    – Respond to the bully / bullies (for example, engage in discussion, hit back at them, or something else. If the bully is unknown, this option may not be relevant.)
    – Report the behaviour (for example to a teacher, parent, site administrator, or other authority)
    – Something else (for example, bring others into the discussion, set up a ’solidarity group‘, etc. You could ask them for further ideas).
     
  3. Explain that after each scenario has been read out, participants should go to the corner which is closest to the way they would probably respond. Tell them to be honest about what they think they would do!
     
  4. Read out the first scenario and give participants time to select their corner. Once they have taken a position, ask a few in each group to explain why they chose that response. Then read out the next scenario, and continue until you feel enough cases have been discussed.

Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing

Use some of the following questions to debrief the activity:

  • How did you find the activity? Which scenarios did you find most difficult to respond to and why?
  • Do you think all were examples of bullying?
  • Have you ever come across cyberbullying – either as a victim or a bystander? What can you say about the relation between offline and online bullying? Are there any important differences?
  •  Has the activity made you look at bullying / cyberbullying in a different way? Has it made you think you might respond differently in future?
  • What can you do against cyberbullying?
  • Who should take action to prevent hate speech online? What should the role of the media networks, service providers, the police, parents, the school authorities, and so on, be?

Suggestions for adaptations and variations

The activity could be simplified, with just two options for participants to select: ‚Do nothing‘, or ‚Do something‘. The two signs could be put at either end of the room and participants place themselves along a line between the two signs, depending on how likely they are to select either option.

Reference / original source of the method

The original source of this method is the published manual from the Council of Europe: Booksmarks – A manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education. Revised edition, p. 66-68).

Further tips and resources

Tips for facilitators:

  • If the group is large, or unaccustomed to general discussion, it may be helpful to introduce a magic stick or imaginary microphone so that people wanting to speak must wait their turn.
  • Participants may want to choose more than one option, for example, responding to the bully and reporting the abuse. If this happens, tell them to take the corner which seems most important, then give them the chance to explain their position.
  • Be aware that some participants may be experiencing bullying, perhaps from others in the group. You will need to be sensitive to the different personal needs or conflicts and should not press anyone to respond if they do not seem willing to.
  • If there are participants who are experiencing bullying, the activity may bring their concerns to the surface, leading them to recognise their need for further support. You should either make it clear that you can offer such support – in confidence – or should have alternative support systems you can point them to. Before the activity, you may wish to explore existing local or national services, for example, helplines or organisations offering support to the victims.
  • If participants are unfamiliar with cyberbullying, or do not seem to recognise its damaging nature, you could use some of the background information to raise their awareness both about the issue and about approaches other people have used. Where relevant, the links between hate speech and bullying should be made (especially when bullying is combined with hate speech) (Council of Europe, 2016, Booksmarks – A manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education. Revised edition, p. 66-68).
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