Last week, our colleagues Miroslava Bozogáňová and Jana Papcunová participated in the Week of Science and Technology. Within the programme, they prepared an online educational lecture with the title Free speech versus hate speech, intended for eighth and ninth graders of Marek Križin Elementary School in Košice. The lecture took place within the subject Civics in cooperation with the teacher Mgr. Maria Sarkova, PhD. and was devoted to the topics of free versus hate speech in the online space. Mirka and Janka discussed the topic of human rights, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Together with the students, they considered the thin line between free and hate speech in the sense of “Does freedom of speech mean the opportunity to say whatever I want?”
At the beginning of the lecture, psychologists presented current surveys on the use of social media among young people in Europe and Slovakia, as well as statistics on how many young people already have personal experience with hate speech on the Internet. “We touched on the very current topic of cyberbullying, which is associated with the school environment, and considered the possibilities of solving hate speech online using specific examples. Together, we discussed the differences in face-to-face and online communication in the sense: why does hatred spread so quickly around the Internet?”, Janka summed up after the lecture.
Eighth and ninth graders actively participated in the discussion through the Slido platform, communicating openly about personal experiences and opportunities for some help in the event of bullying, both in the classroom and online. At the request of Mrs. Sarková, the originally planned lecture for ninth graders was repeated on the second day for a group of eighth graders. The joint discussion and the anonymous voting of the participants pointed out the urgency of the topic for young people and we believe that the lecture will lead to further discussion on the topic in civics lessons.