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White supremacist groups target children online January 14, 2010

Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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12/1/2010- With Martin Luther King Day coming up many teachers will be assigning projects on African-American historical figures. Parents, now is good time to teach your kids a valuable lesson about the Internet: Don’t believe everything that you read.
According to Heidi Beirich, spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, white supremacists groups often publish Web sites with what appears to be legitimate information but is really just lies and propaganda.

Type Martin Luther King into Google, for example, and one of the first three sites listed will be www.martinlutherking.org, a site that advertises itself as: “the truth about Martin Luther King” and “a valuable resource for teachers and students alike.”
The site is produced by Stormfront, a white-supremacist, neo-Nazi group. And the “facts” presented are not at all factual, Beirich said.(The site posts) things that look like real source material, but they’re not so there’s no way to tell if you’re not pretty educated or sophisticated,” she said. “Sometimes kids can’t tell what is legitimate and what is not.”

Michael Dorsey of the Houston Independent School District said sites such as these are why the school district has aggressive filtering software on school computers. It’s also why Houston-area teachers are encouraged to guide students to pre-approved resource sites, he said. “Basically the thing we want to keep kids away from doing is just Googling a term, because that can get them anywhere,” he said. “It really becomes a Wild Wild West kind of thing.”

At home, it is recommended that students access the district’s online resources such as EBSCO host. EBSCO is just one research database the district subscribes to and offers free of charge to students. The username and passcode are easy to remember and can be obtained from your child’s teacher or librarian, he said. Getting children to believe false information isn’t the only risk hate groups pose to children, however. Many of these groups also target children with online games and chat rooms, Beirich said.
The Anti-Defamation League offers the following advice for kids and parents when they find hate speech online:

Flag. Many sites, such as YouTube, allow users to flag offensive content for review. Many also allow you to say why you thought something was offensive. If you flag content, make sure to include detailed comments as to why you think the item was hateful.

Speak. Post videos, counter-points of view, or comments that oppose the offensive point of view.

Think. Perspective is crucial. Think before you respond, and try to respond in a thoughtful, careful manner.

Applaud. Don’t forget to post positive comments on content that shares positive messages.

Talk. Talk to your friends, teachers, or family about what you’ve seen.

Learn. Many groups publish information about combating particular kinds of prejudice, such as the Anti-Defamation League’s resources on anti-Semitism.

E-mail. Notify groups like the Anti-Defamation League, which keep track of trends in hate speech.

Act. Take active steps to combat prejudice online and off-line.

Know. Know the community with which you are dealing. Look for a site’s Terms of Service or Community Guidelines and find out about the kind of site the company wants to run — many say that they do not wish to host hateful content — and hold the site accountable to it.

This article first appeared on MomHouston.com

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