Mid-way through Anti-Bullying Week, it is more than fitting that today is also International Day for Tolerance. The day is marked by the UN in order to strengthen “tolerance by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples.”
Encouraging tolerance and promoting an active interest and respect for difference is essential to tackling bullying behaviours. Bullying is often targeted against groups of people because of their race, religion, sexuality, disability, gender or transgender identity, and this abuse is increasingly taking place online.
Earlier this year for Safer Internet Day, UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC), which we are a part of, produced a piece of research looking into online hate with 24% of young people reporting that they themselves had been a target.
Despite this experience, 94% of these young people also believed that no one should be targeted with online hate, proving that young people were keen to be part of a more tolerant and inclusive online community.
Following on from this research, UKSIC asked young people to ‘Share a Heart’ on Safer Internet Day to be part of a collective action to show kindness. The response was overwhelming. 12,000 tweets were sent and over 4 million people were reached by the #shareaheart Thunderclap. We saw individuals and schools across the country all come together to play their part in showing how they could be kind online. Moreover as one teacher said, “Students disclosed worries about friends online or experiences they had which they realised was cyberbullying”.
Indeed, following a survey of teachers who had participated in Safer Internet Day, 46% of them said that their Safer Internet Day involvement led to disclosures about potential safeguarding issues online. This just goes to show the impact of awareness days which can have much deeper impression than the day or week itself.
We hope that Anti-Bullying Week and International Day for Tolerance will have a broad and impactful reach, encouraging people to act positively to create a more kind and tolerant society.