Hate crimes site revamped

The Massachusetts Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes has redesigned its Web site to help educate a wider audience and enable victims to report such crimes.

In addition to the task force, the state's Student Civil Rights Project and Web design firm RDVO worked on the site, Stop the Hate.Org (www.stopthehate.org).

Christina Bouras, executive director of the task force, said the idea behind the redesign was to create a youth-oriented feel while making the site more comprehensive and inclusive of sectors of society that deal with hate crimes.

"Our old site catered primarily to students and educators. We wanted to expand the site to include areas for law enforcement and the community in particular," Bouras said, adding that officials also wanted to take advantage of new technologies. She said they've done more to provide access to documents and now offer online tutorials.

Another site highlight is an online form that victims can use to report hate crimes. Members of the Student Civil Rights Project monitor the site.

"This is the only Web site of this type in the nation that allows you to file a hate crime [report] online," said Greg Lanza, assistant student civil rights director for the task force. "You can make it as detailed and anonymous as you want. It comes directly to us, which is a great feature because it allows people who don't feel comfortable going to a police officer or a principal to have a place where they can turn to and say, "Help.'"

Teachers who want to teach students about hate crimes can find sample curriculums on the site. Also included are tips from students, scholars, experts and police officers on how to deal with and/or report a hate crime, as well as information on relevant laws.

Benjamin Zipkin, RDVO's managing director, said that to make the revamped site appeal to young people, designers aimed for "fresh and interesting."

"When you look at most hate crime sites, they're pretty boring, and they load up on the negative imagery — the swastikas and the burning crosses — to really make their point," Zipkin said. "We stayed away from that and tried to create an image of unity, which is what the task force wanted to emphasize as well."

To get word out about the site, the task force has sent pamphlets to every high school in the state. Also, more than 20,000 cards announcing the relaunch were sent to organizations, businesses and governments statewide.

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