Belgium – Salesians launch international campaign against hate speech on social networks

(ANS – Brussels) – With an educational and charismatic identity-based approach, Salesians have decided to commit themselves to helping educators, families, the media and young people themselves recognize and defuse hate speech, discriminatory and violent messages, circulating on social networks and beyond.

According to UN reports, a disturbing wave of xenophobia, racism, and intolerance is emerging around the world with a worrying rise in anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, and persecution of Christians. There is also a simultaneous increase in bullying, cyber-bullying, and other discriminatory behavior, also fueled by the spread of social networks and the possibility of anonymity. In this regard, Pope Francis pointed out that “social aggression finds in mobile devices and computers an unparalleled space for expansion.” So-called “hate speech” poses a threat to social stability and peace.

And precisely in response to this, to help provide a tool for reflection, especially for young people, on the issue of hate speech and related human rights violations, the Salesians, through “Don Bosco International” (DBI) – the body that represents the Salesian Congregation to the institutions of the European Union (EU) – launched the “No to Hate Speech” campaign.

The increase in violence, DBI underscores, is also due to the loss of the ability to express oneself and dialogue. The increasing spread of algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and profiling systems is isolating young people in information and communication bubbles, indirectly contributing to radicalization processes. And the less people know how to express and confront themselves, the more violent they become.

From these premises, in the face of hate speech, the campaign presents six operational suggestions.

1. Apply the Preventive System to the digital world as well, adapting it and developing appropriate methodologies and capacities.

2. Involve young people in creating different and positive narratives.

3. Involve parents and families in a collaboration that is fundamental in the education of youth.

4. Develop initiatives for critical thinking training.

5. Encourage the Salesian Family to use a human rights-based approach in discourse and actions, both online and offline.

6. Live fraternity and actively work for peaceful coexistence.

With all these suggestions, DBI invites every person involved in education to join forces in this common challenge, building together a culture of human rights that contributes to creating an honest, active, and responsible citizenship.

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