How do young people show civil courage online?

  • Awareness
  • 03/04/2019
  • Austrian Safer Internet Centre

The Austrian initiative was involved in a major study on the topic of "Civil Courage 2.0". The insights show how important bystanders' role is in online conflicts. 

What should you do if you see someone being bullied online? How can you support someone who is the target of online hate speech? The Austrian initiative has published the result of a major research project on civil courage, led by the University of Vienna.

1,868 young people from Vienna completed an online survey. The study participants were aged 14-19. They were asked about their experiences with online hate speech, and had to evaluate how they would react to hypothetical online harassment situations. The results highlight how differently young people demonstrate civil courage online and offline. Online civil courage is considered as easy to practice, but rather useless. Also, there are significant gender-based differences in how online hate speech is approached: girls are hit hardest by verbal insults online and consequently, they are more willing to stand up for others online.

The trainings have demonstrated that civic courage online makes sense, even in its simplest form of signalling online content. Even if social platforms do not quickly react, it helps when many people signal injustices. More importantly, it is crucial for the concerned person to know they are not alone. has developed a step-by-step online guidance on how to signal abusive content on social networks.

Based on the findings of the research project, has developed a flyer for young people "Have the courage to intervene!" (in German: "Trau dich und greif ein!"). They encourage to intervene against online hate speech, but also to know when to get help from others.

Find out more information about the work of the Austrian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.


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