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article imageTeenage volunteers to help police in Facebook trial

By Jane Fazackarley     Mar 2, 2011 in Internet
Thames Valley Police have announced that they are to begin a trial in an effort to reduce cyber bullying. The scheme will run in the Reading area and will last for three months.
The trial began on Monday and PC Dave Thomas, safer schools officer for Reading, will be working alongside a teenager volunteer. Together they will investigate any reports of bullying or harassment which are made through the Facebook site.
If a case of cyber bullying is highlighted and brought to the attention of a police officer then an investigation will be carried out. If it is decided what has been said is inappropriate "they will send the bully a message warning them if they continue they could be breaking the law", according to the press release.
A letter will also be sent out to the parents warning them of the possible consequences which could include the student being charged with a public order offence.
PC Thomas said:
“In Reading alone, we recorded 60 Facebook-related crimes in the last quarter."
“By sending a police warning notice on Facebook students will be made aware they could be prosecuted. By alerting their parents to the problem, we are aiming to nip the problem in the bud and prevent it becoming something more serious."
"Social networkers, whatever their age, often don’t think about what they are writing in the same way they would think about what they write in a letter or an email."
If the trial proves successful then the scheme could be rolled out to other areas in Thames Valley.
A survey carried out by Care.com in the United States last year showed that cyber bullying was the biggest fear for the parents who were interviewed and 62% of those questioned said that they thought that new technology and social networking sites were making children "fiercer".
Commenting in a previous article on Digital Journal, Catherine Angelastro, ED.S, said:
"Years ago students were bullied out loud – on playgrounds, in class, written in notebooks and words from your parents such as just ignore it – or walk away were common and cliché. These words that teens and children used to use have now been replaced by texting and Facebook and the audience – once a group of youngsters playing – has become thousands. The apology uttered in the principal’s office was good for then – but how do we fix the hurt done now with modern technology. – as the kids say “it is a blessing and a curse.”
In a statement a spokesperson for Facebook told the Daily Mail:
"Facebook have worked hard to develop reporting mechanisms that enable people to report offensive content they are concerned about."
"These reports are then reviewed by our highly trained team before the appropriate action is taken. Having the tools to report content in this way gives people more control over what is said about them on Facebook than over the wider web where few such controls exist."
More about Facebook, Thames Valley, Cyber bullying, Police, Volunteers
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