Current Affairs

Internet abuse by child triggers police investigation

Amy Bourke April 3, 2007
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An 11-year-old boy has been the subject of a homophobic hate crime investigation after he labelled a classmate a “gay boy” in an e-mail.

The parents of the 10-year-old victim complained to police after seeing the e-mail, which they viewed as homophobic bullying.

Two policemen from Widnes in Cheshire then visited the boys’ primary school to speak to the head teacher, who re-directed them to the house of the sender, George Rawlinson.

“I thought the officers were joking at first but they told me they considered it a very serious offence,” George’s father told The Daily Mail.

“This seemed like a huge waste of resources for something so trivial as a playground spat.”

The boy told his parents that he used the word “gay” instead of “stupid” and did not mean to be homophobic.

Mr Rawlinson said his son was terrified when the police arrived at their home, and thought that he would be locked up in a prison cell.

He has lodged a formal complaint with the police, criticising them for their “heavy handed” approach.

But Inspector Nick Bailey of Cheshire police told The Daily Mail that no further action would be taken against George.

However, he said the force had been obliged to record the incident as a crime and that they had dealt with it in the correct manner.

“The parents of the boy believed it was more sinister that just a schoolyard prank,” Inspector Bailey said.

“We were obliged to record the matter as a crime and took a proportionate and maybe old fashioned view.

“Going to the boy’s house was a reasonable course of action to take. This e-mail message was part of some behaviour which had been on going.

“The use of the word ‘gay’ would imply that it was homophobic, but we would be hard pushed to say it was a homophobic crime.

“This boy has not been treated as an offender.”

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