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What Drives Teenagers To Say Hateful Things To Each Other?

Boston Latin School. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Boston Latin School. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 7 years old.

We've been hearing a lot about racist hate speech among teenagers in the Boston area recently.

A case in point: complaints by African-American students at the Boston Latin School of racist comments from fellow students and teachers. On Radio Boston Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau, black students at Boston Latin, told us about some of the comments they've heard from their white classmates, like "Go back to Africa," and, "we should've never bought you."

Boston Latin school is now facing a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office.

There are other recent examples of this kind of hate speech, including anti-Semitic graffiti found at Newton North High School. And, earlier this month, students at Catholic Memorial High School taunted a group of fans from Newton North.

Administrators at Catholic Memorial School held a series of student assemblies to address the problem — and make changes in their curriculum.

But all this raises the question — what drives teenagers to resort to this kind of hate speech?


Joani Geltman, lecturer in Curry College's psychology department and author of "A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens: Talking to Your Kids About Sexting, Drinking, Drugs and Other Things that Freak You Out." She tweets @JoaniGeltman.

Naomi Forman-Katz, Newton North High School senior.

Alison Forman-Katz, Newton North High School senior.


The Boston Globe: Catholic Memorial Vows Changes After ‘You Killed Jesus!’ Chant

  • "Catholic Memorial School administrators say they will hold a series of student assemblies Monday and make long-term changes to their curriculum after several students peppered fans of a rival school with anti-Semitic chants at a basketball game Friday night."

Radio Boston: Black At BLS: Race And Sensitivity At Boston Latin School

  • "On Martin Luther King Day this year, two students at the prestigious Boston Latin School launched a social media campaign: #BlackatBLS."

This segment aired on March 23, 2016.


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