“I want to know if something isn’t right at Mt. Juliet High School,” said Principal Mel Brown, about the new app he’s using in his school to let students speak up anonymously about bullying.
STOPit, an app developed by Todd Schnobel, calls itself a “catalyst for cultural transformation.” Inspired by the bullying-induced suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd in 2012, it is a simple platform to allow communities to report problem members. In Tennessee, where Mt. Juliet High School stands, around 80 schools, mostly middle and high schools, are using the app.
STOPit gives their students a way to report incidents of bullying to teachers and school resource officers without having to risk retaliation. It isn’t restricted to office hours or school days, either.
“If used correctly it can be helpful,” or “a real time-killer,” when the app is misused, said Brown. There are few ways to prevent students from making spurious accusations or simply using the app to send nonsense. But good reviews outweigh the bad.
Donna Wright, Director of Schools in Wilson County, supported the introduction of the app to all four high schools in the district, including training for the teachers and designated respondents. It was she who arranged for its funding via Wilson County Schools’ insurance provider.
STOPit functions like an online chat, allowing text, videos, and pictures to be sent, and stores records of every report or interaction, which allows schools to keep comprehensive records.
“This is a really good way for people who are bystanders to bullying or who are being bullied themselves to have a place to report and say what is going on,” said Georgia Latta, a Mt. Juliet High senior.
“The anonymous part is really important,” said another classmate, junior Alaina Walsh. “It’s easier for teenagers because we’re always on our phones.” She also called the app “comforting to students.”
“What we’ve found is that it’s a food in the door whereas otherwise students might not say anything,” said Maury County Public Schools Supervisor of Counseling and Mental Health Dr. Robb Killen. It’s well documented that the effects of bullying last far beyond childhood, so anything schools can do to put a stop to it is a step in the right direction.
Would you use STOPit in your schools? Do you think it has the potential to be helpful or more of a time-waster? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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