15/11/2010

Avatar Officers Police The Web To Beat Bullying

Avatar police officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s e-crime unit will be policing the world’s first “virtual march” as part of an initiative to mark Anti-Bullying week.

Starting today, tens of thousands of children, teachers and celebrities - each with their own avatar - will “march” through a series of websites carrying a petition asking the government for help to protect children from bullying, violence and harassment.

During the course of the march, their avatars can be spotted making their way across the screens of more than 50 websites. The march will culminate at the Downing Street website where their message will be formally presented to Number 10.

Police Officer and PCSO avatars will be present at the start of the march, overseeing proceedings in the rallying area or “March Park”. Their avatars will feature links to the Metropolitan Police Service’s young people pages which provide advice on bullying as well as a larger crime prevention advice.

The march has been organised by the anti-bullying charity, Beatbullying, as part of Anti-Bullying Week 2010. Launched in 2004, this annual event, aims to send a clear and positive message that bullying is neither acceptable nor inevitable in our schools and communities. Anti-Bullying Week will take place from 15-19 November and will focus this year on the importance of Taking action together.

DSU Charlie McMurdie Head of the Police Central e-Crime Unit said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to supporting children and teachers in the prevention of bullying.

“Most schools in London have an assigned Safer Schools Officer whose job includes helping teachers prevent bullying in their schools.

“However, bullying does not just happen in the classroom or playground. New technology can involve new risks if used to embarrass, harass or threaten peers through cyber-bullying, internet harassment, and internet bullying.

“Like traditional forms of youth violence, electronic aggression can lead to emotional distress and conduct problems at school. Gangs are increasingly using the internet and other new technologies to highlight their presence and arrange meetings or fights, and sites can often contain symbols associated with the gang.

“PCeU’s vision is to provide a safe and secure on line networked computing environment that enhances trust and confidence in the UK as a safe place to live in.

“The unit continues to engage with industry and charity in order to increase public safety online. It is for this reason that we are pleased to be able to play a part in Anti-Bullying week.”

(BMcN)

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