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Brunel Student Designs GPS Tracker To Minimise Bullying

An Industrial Design student from Brunel University has designed a GPS enabled child tracker for mobile phones so that parents can be kept informed of their children's whereabouts on their way to and from school.

Inventor Manjit Singh Mattu created the 'Roo' to combat a problem faced by today's young school goers and parents - bullying. The 'Roo' is designed to provide parents with the ability to track their children's movements to and from school as well as enabling children to alert their parents or guardians if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

The 'Roo' works by using GPS enabled software specifically written for mobile phones. Parents and children can easily download the programme onto their phone where it will activate immediately and permanently. During the research phase Manjit found that the majority of bullying took place outside of the school grounds in quieter areas such as alleyways and parks - away from the busier main streets.

The Roo has been devised to monitor children's movement along a number of pre-planned routes (programmed into the mobile devices) along busy or lively high streets. If the child veers off one of the pre-planned routes by 150m, the parents or guardians and school will be notified of the unusual activity via a text alert. Parents can then either contact the child or school directly or trace the exact position of the child via the mobile GPS.

Talking about the Roo, Manjit commented: “Bullying is a massive problem in today's school environments. While some schools are combating bullying with CCTV cameras, the majority of children are being bullied outside of the school walls in quiet areas. I've designed the 'Roo' to give children confidence and the protection they need when finding themselves in a compromised situation such as being faced by bullies or being approached by strangers. Equally, this design is to put parents at ease about their children's whereabouts and safety.

Stephen Green, course lecturer at Brunel University's School of Engineering and Design, commented: “Manjit has created an interesting concept that combines clever design principles with an awareness of key issues faced by so many parents and children in today's society. Roo has highlighted the need for designers to look at real life issues and incorporate solutions into their designs.“

A recent study by ChildLine and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) revealed that:

  • Just over half (54%) of both primary and secondary school children thought that bullying was 'a big problem' or 'quite a big problem' in their school.
  • Over half (51%) of Year 5 students (aged 9-10) reported that they'd been bullied during the preceding term, compared with just over a quarter (28%) of Year 8 students (aged 12-13).
  • 15% of primary school students and 12% of secondary school students said that they had both bullied other children and been bullied themselves in the last year.

Some useful tips for children affected by bullying from 'Stop Bullying Now' include:

  • Always tell an adult - never keep it to yourself
  • Stay in a group - safety in numbers
  • If you're being bullied online - don't reply
  • Join clubs or take part in activities where you can meet other kids.