Can a person learn how to respond to an offensive or hateful situation? Can adults help 21st Century young people master the skills? Earlier this fall I wrote a post, Is Hate Speech Here to Stay?, wondering if up-front, in-your-face hate and offensive speech will be a continuing problem in our connected world.
Recently a New York Times article, Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech, described the challenges and awkwardness that individuals experience when they happen to hear or see a person engaging in offensive activity. The piece highlighted research about what occurs when people challenge offensive speech, and it suggests concrete steps that a person can take when confronted by offensive behavior or speech. The authors, Benedict Carey and Jan Hoffman, point out that researchers have consistently found that a person who makes the awful comments will often curb behavior when another expresses reservations or reacts in a more indirect way.