On the UN Zero Discrimination Day on March 1, we celebrated the right of everyone to live a full life without discrimination. As the world rapidly digitalizes, young people’s social encounters are increasingly taking place online. At the same time, over a third of bullying today takes place online, according to UNESCO.
This phenomenon inspired the creation of The Polite Type, a creative tool to ignite anti-bullying discussion. The project was initiated together with TietoEVRY’s long-term partner the Children & Youth Foundation in Finland in 2020.
The Polite Type is an open-source font that recognizes and addresses cyberbullying and hate speech by rewriting hurtful words, replacing them with more inclusive ones. The initial vocabulary was co-created with high-school-aged teenagers and youth from diverse backgrounds in Finland. The freely available font is meant to be used for educational purposes, at schools or by parents, to approach this issue carefully and create safe spaces for discussion.
”Through Polite Type, we promote equality and inclusion – and fight against discrimination. Bullying is especially damaging to children and young people. We want bullies to rethink the words they use and their actual meaning. The Polite Type supports our vision for responsible online behavior, but more importantly, I hope that The Polite Type and its results inspire all audiences to consider how bullying and discrimination could be tackled,” says Kia Haring, Head of Global Communications and Sustainability at TietoEVRY.
Widespread interest and an expanding impact – the latest launch in Norway
Since its autumn 2020 launch, The Polite Type has gained widespread interest, with more than 10,000 downloads and related bullying workshops involving more than 1,000 students in Finland. The workshops organized by the Children and Youth Foundation will also continue during 2021.
In November 2020, The Polite Type was expanded to Sweden where the initiative is supported by the Friends organization. The Polite Type will be used as a part of the discussion in a series of workshops that Friends is organizing in high schools this spring. In these workshops, students will have the opportunity to discuss online culture, the importance of language, and how a single word can have serious consequences.
Now, the initiative is also taking off Norway. Last month, TietoEVRY announced a collaboration with a Norwegian NGO Press, a Save the Children affiliate, to initiate discussions in Norwegian schools too. During the spring, there will be workshops across the country where children are able to suggest actions for schools, parents, and the Norwegian government to build a safer digital environment for children in Norway.
In addition to the Nordic countries, the font has reached a large worldwide audience and raised discussions on this important topic through social media channels and media outlets.
”The Polite Type highlights a topical global challenge and we have received lots of international feedback regarding the initiative. We are pleased to cooperate on this important issue with our new partners in Sweden and in Norway. It is important for us to promote the responsible use of technology and the wellbeing of young people”, Haring concludes.
Visit The Polite Type at www.thepolitetype.com
In addition to The Polite Type, we work actively on various societal engagements for the greater good. Learn more here.