11 February, 2014

Why hate speech can put the targets of hate at physical risk

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Category: European Action Day
Aileen Donegan
5 pm

By Gubaz Koberidze

“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Hate speech as defined covers all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, is not only a bunch of words. Hate speech is more than people think about it, because hate speech unfortunately can cause more than we think!

Did you know that more than 100,000 school students in Europe refuse to go to school every day? And why? Because of physical and verbal abuse by peers. And also did you know that teenagers will harm or kill themselves, because of bullying every day? Physical harm and suicide are the third leading cause of death in ages of 15-24 and the sixth cause of death in ages of 5-14 (researches show).

Researchers have found that everything starts from school, from early age. Kids who experienced bullying in childhood may physically harm themselves in the teen and young adult years. In fact, studies are saying that bullying at a young age is a higher risk of self harming as a teen. Of course it is important to mention that being bullied in childhood doesn’t mean that these kids will definitely self-harm when they are teens, but it simply means that they are at a bigger risk for this behaviour.

People who self-harm usually try to keep it a secret from their friends, colleagues and from their families. As a result they often injure themselves in places that can be hidden easily by clothing, so it makes everything complicated. It is very difficult to find that a person is self-harming when they’re keeping themselves fully covered at all times – even in hot weather – claiming to have frequent accidents and mishaps, and spending a big amount of time alone, becoming hopeless, helpless and feeling worthless.


And in these cases questions appear: how we can approach people who are self-harming?

It is always important to approach them with care and understanding, because usually when people are self-harming they feel a deep sense of shame and guilt. They also may feel confused and worried about their behaviour. Freaking out about their behaviour or shaming them for what they’re doing doesn’t make sense, because they see their behaviour as a failure and are embarrassed. So, overreacting is a senseless reaction. It is very common if they don’t really want to talk, but if they want it listening patiently and being open-minded is the most important for them.


Bullying -> Self harm 

This is a case of a school student who is in a wheelchair and decided to speak up about their problems on the Internet. The following is an online comment written by this student:

“Since Year 7 people have bullied me because I am in a wheelchair. They always called me wheelie and pushed me around (literally). Recently some girls have been telling me to cut myself so that I can finish the job of killing myself. One girl is even giving me notes and drawings on how to kill myself painfully. It’s making me really depressed. I can’t tell my mum because she only thinks of me as a burden, and tells me this too. It’s really hard. I don’t know who to turn to. I’ve even tried telling the school, but the teachers don’t take me seriously and tell me to stop telling fibs. I showed one teacher the notes and they just threw them in the bin and told me not to draw such graphic images or use such foul language. I really need help I don’t know what to do. I can’t change the fact I’m in a wheelchair even though I wish I could. Please help!”

This is a person who was bullied from the age 7 and didn’t have support from friends, teachers and even from mom. In general bullying at schools is mainly reported by students’ mothers because many young people don’t feel like they can speak up – just like how the person above in this case felt, and had to resort to speaking out online instead.


Research of Rick Nauert;
Statistics of self-harm.org;
Child Line – Ask Sam.




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