Teaching kids in Poland about hate speech

Following the death of Gdańsk mayor Paweł Adamowicz, Poland is reflecting on how to tackle the climate of hatred that has been growing in the country. Teaching about hate speech in schools can be part of the solution.

Claudia Ciobanu
Claudia Ciobanu NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Teaching kids in Poland about hate speech - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Paweł Adamowicz was known for his efforts to make Gdańsk a city open to immigrants, to LGBTQ people, to all who could be perceived as "other" in Poland.

Adamowicz continuously advocated for meeting these "others", engaging with them and changing as a result. He was an advocate of refugee rights, women's and LGBTQ rights while also being a Catholic and holding conservative views on some issues.

Poland is reeling after his sudden death January 14, following his stabbing during the final evening of a charity event. While the motives of the killer are only partly known so far, few have doubts that the climate of hatred that has grown in Poland in the last years -- driven by political discourse and the media -- has played a role.

"How to change this climate of hate?" is a question we are all asking in the aftermath of this terrifying death.

One small initiative by mayors of Wroclaw and Warsaw might be a piece in the puzzle: teaching kids in school how to recognize hate speech and encouraging them to take action in safe ways. 

Details from the story:

  • Following the tragic death of Adamowicz, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski and Wrocław Mayor Jacek Sutryk are promoting the introduction of discussion on hate speech in schools as early as this month. 
  • The classes teach kids how to recognize hate speech and understand which are its most common targets -- in Poland it is usually refugees, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Roma, non-white people, feminists and the elderly.
  • They teach kids that hate speech is part of a spiral of violence that ends up with acts of physical aggression and even extermination of the targeted group.
  • They also instruct kids how to react when they see hate speech on the streets and in social media, by contacting authorities or NGOs to report it. 

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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