With the development of new technologies, mental health concerns have increased worldwide. The percentage of adolescents reporting symptoms of major depression from 2005 to 2017 increased by 52%. Hateful comments on social networks have contributed strongly to this. Especially if you touch on a socially sensitive topic. For example, the proposal to legalize all genders partnership divided Lithuania into two parts – while some expressed a constructive opinion, others promoted aggression and sought to spread outrage. But how do you know when a comment expresses an opinion and when human rights are violated? We will reveal this in this post.
Social networks are implementing and updating blocking and reporting features aimed at reducing the number of aggressive comments. Unfortunately, the internet is limitless and it is quite difficult to control all comments, so the help of legal authorities is needed. Electronic bullying can be dealt with under civil or criminal law, depending on the situation. Criminal liability applies when bullying damages reputation by spreading false information about a particular person. We can all have our opinion, but if it incites hatred, we may have to answer for it. What to do when you see comments promoting aggression?
1. Assess the threat to a person and his health
Although the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania states that all persons have the right to their opinion and freedom to express it, it also states that this freedom is incompatible with incitement to hatred, which includes the spread of national, racial, religious or social hatred, violence and discrimination. and misinformation. Thus, in contributing to prevention against offensive comments, it is first important to assess their impact.
2. Find out who is harassed, how, how many people are involved, how long the bullying lasts.
If it is found that offensive comments are repeated, it is important to help the victim of electronic bullying as soon as possible. Once emotional support has been provided, the circumstances of the bullying must be clarified so that those responsible take responsibility and this will help to prevent possible future bullying.
3. Gather information and store evidence
To prove that negative comments really incite hatred, it is important to have evidence. For this reason, we advise you to save comments that have violated the rights of Internet users, so that the responsible authorities can assess the situation and report the responsibility to the perpetrators of electronic bullying.
4. Report abusive comments
The quote that happiness loves silence is not valid in the fight against electronic bullying. On the contrary, silence leaves victims to fight alone, so we encourage the observed violation of human rights to report to the responsible authorities. You can do this in the reporting form, which invites you to report comments that promote violence, bullying, drug trafficking, incitement to racial and ethnic discord, and so on. This can be done anonymously.
The coordinator of the “Be Kind Behind the Screen” project which informs young people about hate speech on the Internet and prevention methods, says: When asked why they did so, the answer is often heard – not thinking about the effect. Therefore, we believe that non-formal education can be especially helpful in combating negative comments.” It is a type of education that promotes the ability to communicate, take responsibility and learn through personal experience. These skills are especially needed to reduce bullying.
For more tips on how to improve virtual bullying prevention, check the Be Kind Behind the Screen project page