12th June 2015
Hundreds of students across South Lanarkshire have been warned of the dangers of posting offensive material online through a tie-up between an East Kilbride college and anti-sectarian campaigners.
Anti-sectarian campaigners Nil by Mouth have teamed up with South Lanarkshire College on a new hard-hitting ad campaign which warns of the legal ramifications of online bigotry.
Posting sectarian and offensive on the internet carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison in Scotland. Last May a survey of 1,300 young adults, conducted by marketing agency Digital Clarity, found that 16% of the 18- to 25-year-olds 16% admitted to spending over 15 hours a day online.
The campaign message warns ‘It only takes seconds to post a sectarian message online….But you could get five years for it.’ More than 100 of the posters have been displayed across the East Kilbride Campus since January in classrooms, common areas and bathrooms. Last month saw the publication of the final report of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Sectarianism which highlighted the growing problem of online sectarianism. In recent years there have been a number of high profile incidents regarding sectarian behaviour directed towards figures in football – particularly with regard to misuse of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Staff and students have also participated in training through the charity’s pioneering ‘Beyond Religion & Belief’ programme which seeks to raise awareness of sectarianism in the workplace.
Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:
‘We are delighted with the support South Lanarkshire College has shown for our work in recent years and it provides us with a huge opportunity to reach the student population. For better or worse people are spending more and more time online and, sadly, we are seeing people use the internet, and social media sites in particular, to spread hate and bigotry.
We have been working with a number of offenders, victims and families over the past few years and what become very clear is that people do not think there is any consequences for abusing people online. It’s also astonishing how many people use words they don’t even understand.
We want this campaign to hammer home to people the very real consequences of posting sectarian material online and hopefully it will encourage them to pause before they post.‘