Victorian primary students combating 'damaging' internet racism

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An anti-racism program introduced at Victorian primary schools is providing youngsters with strategies to identify and deal with online race hate.

The 'Click Against Hate' program was devised by Dr Dvir Abramovich from the Melbourne-based Anti-Defamation Commission in order to combat some of the internet’s most confronting and offensive content.

The program, which has been run at more than 100 Victorian primary schools, uses discussion, practical workshops and videos to reinforce many online dangers, and suggests strategies to combat them.

“Now every bigot has a megaphone through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to promote their hateful message,” Dr Abramovich said.

He said the program initially targeted secondary students, but he decided it needed to reflect the age of those being introduced to the internet.

He said it’s about educating and empowering the youngsters.

“Stand up and speak out,  we want them to become an ally to the victim and understand the brutal impact the bullying has,” he said.

Facilitator Brett Kaye, who has delivered countless sessions, said he’s heard some disturbing accounts of racially-based internet abuse.

He said there’s no end to the tactics and techniques employed by perpetrators.

“People who make their business to look for the sweet spot I call it, to look for examples where they can do the most damage in the smallest amount of time and there's plenty,” Mr Kaye said.

Denny Niu, 12, is a student at Ormond Primary School in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

She admitted to falling victim to cyber bullying.

“I've had a photo of me posted on Instagram before without permission, and I was pretty upset about that because I didn't want myself to be public on the internet,” she said.

Sessions run less than two hours, but if Ormond Primary School captain Jonah Rudzki is any indication, the message will last considerably longer.

“I think we've changed a lot after the program, and everyone's probably matured a bit and we're not being racist or stereotypical anymore,” he said.

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