Cyber Hate: Danger in Cyber Space
Report on the 2009 Unlearning Intolerance Seminar on June 16, 2009 at the United Nations Headquarters in NY
This was an all-day session on cyber hate and cyberbullying and its impact on young people were an important and perhaps a surprising issue to be taken up in the halls of the UN but given that these esteemed halls have ruled in the past on laws of boundaries of the sea (fishing rights) the air rights and fly over rights and the like, it is therefore very appropriate for the UN to take up CYPERSPACE issues.
In our times there are new sites posted every hour, many often target religions and ethnic minorities. Children are bullied, threatened or taunted through electronic communications such as text messages, social networking sites, and chat rooms. This newest technology is peddling the oldest of fears and spreading hate and hurt. Bullying has jumped from the schoolyard into cyber space and from the physical into the virtual world. It was noted that it is important for everyone to join together to protect our children and to work to create respect and understanding around the world. Many of these violations of human rights often begin at home. The safety and protection of our children is a shared responsibility of parents, law enforcement, and educators.
The speaker from the Simon Weisenthal Center told about the 10,000 hates sites on the internet. Anti-Semitism and race, and anti gay account for the highest number of sites online. Old hatreds have found new techniques through the internet which ratchet up the rhetoric globally, raise emotions, and empower the viewer.
Parents and teachers have an obligation to counterbalance the internet by making kids aware of these internet techniques on hate and must be cautioned not to use the internet as a simple babysitting tool. The presentation of a father who shared the poignant story of his son who was driven to suicide by vicious cyber bullying via email and text message from kids he knew moved all in attendance.
There is an international group called “Teen Angels”, they are ages 13 to 18, and they advocate, educate and monitor the internet to keep the internet safe for teens.
The Anti-Defamation League has developed diversity, anti-bias, and bullying prevention training and curricular resources for schools.
The United Nations Unlearning Intolerance Seminar Series aims to examine different manifestations of intolerance and promote respect and understanding amongst peoples. These events offer opportunities to discuss how intolerance can be “unlearned” through education, inclusion and positive example.
Judy Horowitz & Gloria Landy
Judy Horowitz & Gloria Landy are the representatives of the World Council of Conservative Judaism to the United Nations NGO.
For more information on this, or other activties of the UN NGO, please contact Judy[email protected][email protected] or Gloria [email protected]