Adolescent Perspectives About Online Hate Speech: Qualitative Analysis in the SELMA Project
Objective. This paper aims to study the views, perceptions and representations of online hate speech among adolescents in the Greek cohort of the SELMA Project.
Methods. Qualitative research was conducted in focus groups of 36 Greek adolescents and the data were processed through thematic analysis method.
Results. The majority was unfamiliar with the term “hate speech” and confused it with cyberbullying. The target characteristics of hate, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, physical weakness, disability, sexual orientation, and appearance emerged. Regarding people involved in hate speech, perpetrators in both hate speech and bullying were described to share common characteristics. The emphasis was placed on the victims’ resilience, as well as their socialization, as protective behaviors. Participants stressed the value of the right to freedom of speech, although there was no agreement on its limits. Additionally, it was highlighted that awareness of what is right and wrong is mostly taught by parents, while the role of education was also important. An important finding was that the majority of teenagers were optimistic, supporting the belief that it is possible to find a realistic solution.
Conclusion. The findings support the need for prevention strategies in the school environment, so that adolescents will be able to recognize and potentially combat hate speech in the online and offline worlds.
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