A concerning high percentage of young people report a lack of tolerance for minorities

A concerning high percentage of young people report a lack of tolerance for minorities

A survey shows a strong social distance between young people and minorities in Bulgaria

Over 70% of young people support statements that present the Roma as a threat to the Bulgarian population and call for action against them, including with force. This is shown by the results of a national survey conducted in mid-2019 face to face with more than 1,000 young people aged 14 to 19 from across the country. The survey was conducted by the Center for the Study of Democracy as part of the Find Another Way communication campaign, which aims to encourage critical thinking and civic activism among young people.

The disturbing high percentage clearly shows a high level of distance and hostility on the part of the majority of young people towards the Roma and a lack of tolerance caused by stereotypes in society. With many of them young people encounter in the online environment, which is often their only source of information that they choose to trust. In a situation of pandemic and home isolation, this anonymous communication and purposeful misinformation intensifies and many children do not have the necessary tools to deal with the propaganda flooding them on key issues in society.

Another group, often perceived as a public threat by young people, is that of migrants. Although the refugee crisis and the influx of migrants have subsided significantly, the survey shows that these sentiments continue to be evident in the public sphere. Nearly 64% of respondents agree that migrants should be stopped from entering the country at all costs. The study aims to identify the influence of the final messages and actions (online and offline) in the formation of opinion among young people in Bulgaria. As well as to determine the extent to which the young generation has been subjected to messages calling for aggression and hatred against certain social groups.

“The data shows that the passive exposure of hostile messages against certain social groups on the Internet, as well as their uncritical acceptance by young people, is directly related to the normalization of violence and aggression as permissible actions to resolve social conflicts,” said Rositsa Dzhekova, Program Director Security, Center for the Study of Democracy. “The lack of mass media literacy programs in schools only aggravates the situation, as young people lack basic culture for critical screening of media content. Calls for extreme action are particularly tempting for those young people who, although a small group given the prevailing lack of civic engagement among young people, are still looking for ways to express dissatisfaction.”

“Find another way” reaches the young audience through a series of videos and original content on social media. The first video of the project includes the well-known to all influencers Pavel Kolev, Hristo Stefanov (Icaka), the actor and journalist Stefan Popov-Chefo, as well as the singer Preya. In it, together with young people who fall into the target group of the campaign, they react to selected negative comments in the media and social networks and share their opinion on whether this is right and what they think provokes the anonymous lack of tolerance and often outright distortion of facts with a purpose to achieve mercenary goals.

You can find more about the campaign in their social media profiles, as well as on the official channels of the campaign – website, Facebook page, Instagram profile and YouTube channel.

About the campaign:

“Find Another Way” has been developed to support European Commission policies that aim to guarantee the economic, cultural and social growth of EU countries and are able to develop in a stable, legal and secure environment, as well as in building an open and safer Europe.

The campaign is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs’ Civil Society Empowerment Program and will run through 2020.

The campaign is executed by the communication agency Intelday Solutions in partnership with the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Applied Research and Communications Fund.