Along with images of natural disasters and violence, one all-too-common news item that can be distressing to kids is reports of hate crimes. Seeing or hearing about hate-motivated assaults and vandalism of homes, cemeteries and places of worship in media, can lead to fear and anxiety in young people, especially if they belong to a vulnerable group. In many cases, the effect will be worse because news isn’t the only place Canadian kids see hate and racism: almost half see hateful content online at least once a month, and one in six sees it every day.
In its early days, the internet was often spoken of as a free marketplace of ideas, where everyone’s views and thoughts could be shared and compete on an equal footing. Today it’s an essential tool for accessing information and services, but its value as a vehicle of civic engagement and debate has in many ways declined.
Most kids see hate and prejudice in places like games, social networks, and online videos. They also say that they want to do something about it when they see it, but don’t know what to do.
Level: Grades 11 and 12
Duration: 1½ to 2 hours class time
About the Author: Robert Porter, Sarah Keeshan, and Jane Bailey
This lesson plan is a joint project of MediaSmarts and The eQuality Project, a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Most kids see hate and prejudice online, and most of them say it’s important to do something about it. But whether you’ve seen a video that’s full of racist conspiracy theories or have just seen a friend share an offensive meme, it can be hard to know what to do about it.
A Guide for Trusted Adults is based on YWCA’s consultation with Canadian girls and young women about their concerns and the issues they face online and on social media platforms and the ways they want the adults in their lives to support them.