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App offers way to report bullies

Daily Post-Athenian Logo

ETOWAH - Etowah City School now has a new tool at its disposal when it comes to stopping bullying.

Principal Brian Trammell brought the issue to the Etowah City School Board meeting on Monday. He said the school district has enrolled with STOPit, an online anti-bullying platform.

"The State requires us to have a clear, concise way for someone to report bullying," Trammell said.

He added Tennessee Risk Management paid for the first year of use for the app for parents and students to report bullying and other concerns; $300 has been budgeted to continue access to the app next year.

"It didn't cost us anything for the remainder of this year," Trammell said.

Trammell said STOPit "gives me a way of tracking and managing (reports of bullying), which is also required by the State of Tennessee."

"I'm the only one who sees (the report)," he said.

Posters with information about the app will be placed throughout the school.

Trammell said several other school systems are using the app, but only students at ECS will have a code specific to the school to use when reporting incidents.

According to a news release from STOPit, the app "can turn each student into an anonymous reporting agent with the ability to stop bullies in their tracks, while protecting both themselves and their friends."

Through the app, students can send photos, videos and screen shot evidence anonymously to report improper behavior to school leaders.

"The platform also includes 2-way anonymous messaging for direct communication with administration and 24/7-365 access to a talk-or-text Crisis Center," the news release stated.

STOPit's service also includes a back-end reporting tool called DOCUMENTit; the incident management system "allows administrators to receive proactive alerts of student reports and effectively conduct investigations," the news release stated.

School Board member Daniel Tallent asked if a similar program was brought before the board at the beginning of the school year. School Director Dr. Mike Frazier said that program was more about teaching students character traits than bullying. However, it did not proceed as planned.

"We held up our end" but the program was not correctly provided, Frazier said.

"We really wanted it ... it talked about character ... and morals," he added.

Frazier said he hopes that program can be revisited in the future.

Tallent indicated he is glad STOPit is available as a resource.

"Bullying has been going on since the beginning of time," Tallent said. "I think it's a serious thing that needs to be addressed."

He also mentioned that two students in neighboring Polk County committed suicide last year as the result of being bullied, so addressing the issue here is important.

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