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Hayward School District Implements STOPit App to Keep Students Safe

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These days, there's an app for just about everything, but what about bullying? There's one for that too, and the Hayward School District is implementing it this year at their middle and high schools, after they piloted the program last year.

Hayward Superintendent Craig Olson says bullying is something they like many districts face.

"Everyday we come to school, we're talking about how to best keep our kids safe," said Olson.

The added layer of bullying prevention is an app called STOPit. They've added the new tool with the help of a safety grant.

"This app is just another form, another line of communication rather than a personal relation one on one maybe face to face or over email," said Olson.

When students open the app they have the option to anonymously report a bullying incident by giving a description of what happened. They can also upload photos, screenshots and videos before sending the report to administration.

"(After it's reported,) then we can assign that incident to it be a guidance councilor, it might be a home room teacher, it might be the principal. Who ever we feel best fits the need of that situation and that kid," said Olson.

They can also have the ability when necessary, to engage law enforcement through the process.

The app also connects students with local resources like a crisis text line and other counseling services. High School Principal Dan Vandervelden says last year they received 45 reports through the app from students.

"Bullying's not as prevalent in our school as you would think. Mental health is I think more prevalent in our school," said Vandervelden.

The principal says sometimes having that anonymity can make all the difference.

"Kids are more likely to report if they know it's anonymous, and they are attached to their phones and so it gives them that opportunity. Not only that, but also the parents can use it too," said Vandervelden.

In the meantime, Olson says they'll continue other ways to be proactive including teaching students how to use social media responsibly.

"I think it's money well spent anytime we're doing something to number one engage a student and number two keep them safe," said Olson.

The middle and high school students will see a presentation on the app at a school assembly Tuesday. There will also be a safety forum for parents from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday night. They will talk about cyber-bullying, the internet and how to keep kids safe.

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