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New phone app lets students report concerns

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OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City School District is implementing a new cell phone application this year, to help students anonymously report bullying, drug use and other concerns.

Matt Carey, director of student services, gave a presentation Sept. 27 on the STOPit app, which the school district is implementing for seventh to 12th grade students.

Carey said they started the process for the app nearly a year ago. It has been live at the high school for a few weeks.

For seventh and eighth grade students, the implementation of the app is being delayed until after a presentation from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.

Other local districts, including schools in the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District and the Somers Point School District, either already use or plan to implement STOPit.

Carey said the school district has already addressed a few issues with the app.

“It’s just another mode of communication for our students. It’s not the only mode of communication,” Carey said. “We still want our students to come to us face to face.”

In today’s world, however, students are “very comfortable” on a cell phone, according to Carey.

When students know an app is anonymous, “they’re much more inclined to let you know,” he said.

He said it can be used for bullying, drug use, for a concern a student has about a friend, and more.

“It might be you’re suspecting there are problems in the B wing bathroom during community lunch, and believe it or not, we got one of those and the administrators were able to nip a potential problem in the bud,” he said.

The messages are received by school administrators and the student services department.

When the STOPit app receives a message outside of the school’s hours, the message sender receives a message back letting them know the message was received and informing them that it is after hours.

It also advises students that, if a situation requires immediate attention, they should contact their family or a crisis service provider.

Links to crisis service providers are included in the app.

While the app is anonymous, if an inappropriate message is sent to the app, the message can be traced to the sender.

The school district is also continuing, and expanding, its use of the Natural High drug prevention program.

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