False Reporting: Busting Myths
How STOPit Prevents Misuse of the App
It’s a common question from school administrators considering the STOPit app for their districts: Are we going to spend a lot of our time investigating false reports? The answer is a resounding no.
Educators and counselors weigh in on false reporting
“You know, after about two weeks, it wasn’t funny anymore. That kind of went away, (kids testing the app and logging inconsequential reports), so out of the hundred or so reports that we had, maybe...less than three percent were not substantial.” Dr. Drew Williams, Principal.
STOPit has barriers in place that make it difficult for students to misuse the system, but the truth is, they’re needed far less often than people might imagine. In fact, an analysis of data provided by participating school districts shows that less than 5 percent of all reports submitted are what we’d classify as false.
A high number of them typically come in the first few weeks, and they can actually be considered good news. That’s because as the app is first introduced into a school district, students tend to send an initial burst of test messages to learn about the system.
“They want to send something in to make sure it really works,” said STOPit Director of Success Teresa Reuter, who specializes in assisting school districts. “Is this really going somewhere? Is someone really responding to this? They put a soft feeler out to see, ‘OK, if I use this, is someone going to be there to listen to it?”
Although these messages may lack actionable information, they hold ample value as trust builders. Students quickly find that their schools are taking the system seriously and that STOPit’s guarantee of anonymity is for real. The early testing phase will reap benefits when students are ready to share important information.
Technology Deters Misconduct
Part of the reason the app’s false report rate is so low is that the STOPit Messenger platform presents obstacles for troublemakers. For starters, the initial report is only the start of a conversation, not the final body of evidence that school officials must act on. Once an administrator responds with a few follow-up questions, it will become apparent quickly if a report isn’t serious.
Second, STOPit offers a helpful clue about the authenticity of reports via a code that lets administrators know if messages are coming from separate sources or the same device. When each user downloads the app, they are assigned their own unique “license plate” – a random number that protects their real identity. If multiple people are sharing a consistent story from several license plates, the chances are good that it’s credible. And if one person were to send a series of messages pretending to be multiple people, the data would immediately reveal it.
The app also enables administrators to save and organize reporting data in ways that can help build a fuller picture about ongoing issues. For example, several reports about the same student can be filed together, or a specific user’s reporting history can be aggregated and analyzed. If someone is found to have a track record for making unsubstantiated accusations, they can be blocked with the Deactivate User button. Administrators have the option of reactivating a user at any time.
An added advantage to the STOPit Messenger’s design is its intuitive familiarity, which helps break the ice with young people.
“It was really important for us to make it look like a text conversation when we were creating the solution because that’s the technology that kids are using today,” Reuter said. “When it looks like a text message in the app, and the administrator is reaching out and asking them questions, it’s amazing the amount of information they’re sharing because they feel like they’re just having a text conversation.”
If you would like more information about how STOPit can benefit your school community, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 855-999-0932.