October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As one way of recognizing the importance of anti-bullying efforts everywhere, we are presenting a two-part series examining STOPit’s genesis as an anti-bullying solution.
This article recounts company founder Todd Schobel’s inspiration for the technology.
Todd Schobel was driving home from work on Oct. 10, 2012 – the heart of National Bullying Prevention Month — when a story on the radio changed his life forever. It was the tragic story of Amanda Todd, a victim of online predation and the cruel and relentless taunting by her peers. Amanda took her own life at just 15 years old.
Amanda had shared her story via flashcards in a YouTube video that caught the world’s attention. In it, she told of a male who coerced her into sharing intimate photos on a webcam. He then shared an image of her widely, leading to merciless cyberbullying by her peers.
“I can never get that photo back,” Amanda wrote on one of the cards. “It’s out there forever.” The realization was too heavy for her to bear.
“I believed the key to helping people like Amanda was to empower them to use the same technology that was inflicting hurt to ask for help,” Schobel said. “In that moment, STOPit was born.”
Schobel’s vision for STOPit began as an anonymous app to report cyberbullying by empowering people young and old, chiefly in school environments, to make a difference. It has since grown into something far more – a technology that is helping aid police investigations, thwart workplace sexual harassment, mitigate toxic work environments, among many other uses.
“I am very proud to say the impact has been life-changing for students, communities and workplaces across the country,” Schobel said. “The STOPit platform was created to give everyone a voice to affect change in every facet of our lives to create safer places for all of us to learn, work and live. From the daunting challenges we face in our schools and communities to what we see in the workplace regarding sexual harassment and discrimination, I recognize just how powerful someone’s voice can be to affect real change.”
Since that fateful day six years ago, more than 3,000 schools in over 40 states have adopted STOPit. The system was used to field nearly 30,000 reports in the 2017-18 school year alone, with incidents ranging from harassment to mental health concerns to suicidal ideation.
“I am so pleased with the progress we have made across the world transforming the way people report and prevent all forms of illegal and inappropriate conduct,” Schobel said. “In thousands of locations around the globe, STOPit has become a catalyst for cultural transformation, positively impacting behaviors for the betterment of society.”
“I look forward to a world where you aren’t bullied in school, aren’t humiliated in college, aren’t harassed at work, treated with dignity as you grow old, and live your life in safe communities where citizens know that when they see something, they can say something without fear.”
For more information on bullying and bullying prevention, including steps you can take to stop abuse in your schools or community, visit:
- Stomp Out Bullying
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ StopBullying.gov website
- The PACER Center’s National Bullying Prevention Center
The Amanda Todd Legacy
Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, launched the Amanda Todd Legacy Society to honor her daughter’s life and build a lasting legacy of hope and help. The organization’s work includes education, advocacy and financial assistance for programs to empower youth, parents, educators, and community leaders who are taking positive action to prevent bullying and build mental health resilience.