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The relation of classroom climate to adolescents' countering hate speech via social skills: A positive youth development perspective

Wachs, Sebastian; Valido, Alberto; Espelage, Dorothy L.; Castellanos, Melisa; Wettstein, Alexander; Bilz, Ludwig (2023). The relation of classroom climate to adolescents' countering hate speech via social skills: A positive youth development perspective. Journal of Adolescence, 95 (6), pp. 1127-1139. 10.1002/jad.12180

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Hate speech is a current challenge for schools around the globe. At the same time, students worldwide stand up to hate speech by countering it. Guided by a positive youth development perspective, the present study investigated the direct and indirect associations between classroom climate (environmental assets), social skills (personal assets), and countering hate speech (as a proxy of thriving) among adolescents.

The sample included 3225 students in grades 7–9 (51.7% self-identified as female) from 40 schools in Germany (n = 1841) and Switzerland (n = 1384). Students completed self-report questionnaires that assessed classroom climate, three facets of social skills (i.e., perspective-taking, prosocial behavior, assertiveness), and counterspeech.

The results of the 2-(1-1-1)-1 multilevel mediation analysis revealed that classroom climate (L2) and the three facets of social skills (L1) had a direct positive effect on counterspeech (L1). Furthermore, classroom climate (L2) also had a direct positive effect on the three facets of social skills (L1). Finally, classroom climate (L2) had an indirect positive effect on counterspeech (L1) via all three aspects of social skills (L1).

The findings highlight that successful anti-hate speech programs may entail a combination of environmental and personal factors for increasing adolescents' active contribution to an inclusive and discrimination-free classroom environment where hate speech is not tolerated.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

PHBern Contributor:

Wachs, Sebastian, Castellanos, Melisa, Wettstein, Alexander


[19 s 0008 01] Hate Speech als Schulproblem (HATE) Official URL




Jessica Brunner

Date Deposited:

01 May 2023 14:45

Last Modified:

13 Aug 2023 00:10

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

adolescents, classroom climate, counter speech, hate speech, schools, social skills 1 |




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