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Teens Think Racial, Sexist Slurs Funny on Facebook

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If you're young and using Facebook or Twitter, chances are that you have encountered racial slurs, sexist language and images -- or you're the one making them.

More than half of 1,355 young people aged 14-24 reported seeing derogatory language aimed at women, African-Americans and other groups on social networking sites such as  Facebook, according to the Associated Press which conducted the poll in conjunction with MTV.

Some are offended by the pejoratives, but only about half of those polled will tell someone to stop using offensive language. 

"It's so derogatory to women and demeaning, it just makes you feel gross," Lori Pletka, 22, says about "slut" and more vulgar words aimed at women. The Southeast Missouri State University senior said other terms regularly offend her online, too - slurs for black people, Hispanics, and gays or lesbians.

The poll also reports that 57 percent see the slurs as people "trying to be funny," rather than holding hatred for those groups. Thirty-five percent of those polled said use of the "n-word" didn't bother them much and 26 percent weren't bothered at all -- only 44 percent said they would be offended. Those numbers are at odds with 60 percent of the African-American youth polled who said they would be offended.

Are young people more forgiving for "trying to be funny" rather than racist or sexist? Or are we, as a society, forgetting to make our children treat people the same way online as we would face-to-face? The poll was taken as part of MTV "A Thin Line" campaign, which targets online abuse and bullying, and it highlights how easy it is for someone online to spew offensive remarks. Unfortunately, this behavior will only lessen when more than half of all people stand up against it.

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