School System Rolls Out New STOPit App Aimed at Protecting Students

Whether its Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or Twitter, almost every teen is a member of one or more social media platforms, and most kids beginning as early as elementary school have a wide range of resources at the devices and gadgets beneath their fingertips.

Page County students now have one more ― a new smartphone app that allows the anonymous reporting of bullying and harassment.

Through “STOPit” students and parents discretely report incidents ranging from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

“STOPit empowers students to stand up for themselves and others while giving our schools the insight we need to keep students safe,” the local school system said in a news release last week.

Last month Page County Public Schools began rolling out the new program for students in third through 12th grades. With STOPit, they can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos and/or videos. For instance students can screenshot online interactions, snap a photo or video of an incident or simply report it via text.

School administrators then manage incidents on a case-by-case basis. Reports that are flagged as urgent through a management system also head to the school board office in Luray.

“It’s a helpful way of being let into the social dynamics of students,” said John Van Wyck, director of student services for the local school system.

In the instance of a reported incident school officials first determine if it was possibly a crime. To help determine if an incident is considered bullying, they follow a national model ― was there aggression? was there dominance? was there persistence?

School officials then determine if the incident needs to be investigated.

“It’s a due process,” said Van Wyck. “But it has to be an issue related to the school or the bus ― something that potentially causes a school disruption.”

The Page County School Board last fall began discussing the app before opting into the $3,500-a-year program and rolling it out last month. Students and parents at each school are given a specific code in order to access STOPit. Reports submitted after school or on the weekends are monitored by STOPit Solutions staff, who then contact local authorities in emergent situations.

“It’s another tool for our tool kit,” said Superintendent for Page County Public Schools Wendy Gonzalez. “So far, it’s just been really positive.”

“If somebody’s feeling bullied, if somebody’s feeling threatened ― that’s all that matters,” said Van Wyck. “If [STOPit] helps in just a couple incidents, it’s worth it.”

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LPS Incorporating STOPit App to Keep Schools Safe

LAWTON, OK (TNN) – Lawton Public Schools are now using an app they hope can increase safety on their campuses.

The STOPit app allows students and parents to anonymously report several types of threats to the Lawton Public Schools Police Department. Reports are similar to text messages, and can also include pictures and video.

“They just go to the app store, download the STOPit app, and then there’s an access code that is assigned to them,” said Pam Brisolara, Lawton PTA Council president. “So, if they have something that they want to report or something that they feel like is dangerous, then they just go to that app and then they download the access, go to the access point, and then they can just text anything they want to text.”

Once a report is sent in, LPS police are able to message back to gather more information and investigate the report.

“A lot of times bullying doesn’t get reported,” said David Hornbeck, chief of police for the Lawton Public School Police Department. “That’s one thing we’re doing with the STOPit app. We’re allowing another avenue for these kids to report that type of activity if it’s happening.”

Students and parents can report more than just bullying.

“You also can report drug activity, inappropriate behavior that’s happening on school campuses, tobacco on school campuses. Any issues law enforcement related or policy violation related can be reported on the STOPit app,” said Chief Hornbeck. “Any time we receive a tip on there it will be addressed and looked into.”

Chief Hornbeck said the STOPit app also helps his department screen reports and assign them to the proper authority or school official to get resolved.

“Every tip that comes in is evaluated, and the first thing we want to do is discover is this of a criminal nature? If it is, then of course we’re going to take it and investigate it to the fullest,” said Chief Hornbeck. “If it’s not of a criminal nature, if it’s a policy violation or something along that line, it will give us an opportunity to hand that off to somebody in the district staff who’s more capable of taking care of that.”

The app was introduced to all Lawton Public Schools in February, and since then there has only been one bullying report. However, the LPS Police Department expects more reports once the word gets out about the app.

“I just feel like somehow or another there’s got to be something we can do to help the kids before it gets to that point,” said Brisolara. “So, that’s the good thing about this app is that it’s proactive and not reactive. So, we can catch it before something happens, hopefully.”

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Page County to Use Anti-Bullying App in Schools

PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Page County Public Schools has started to enroll students in the “STOPit” App as a way to let students report bullying or any other incident anonymously through their smartphones.

Other school systems in the valley have already been using the app, including Augusta County Public Schools and Waynesboro Public Schools.

Page County School officials said they wanted this app to help report anything a student might find alarming.

“Students can anonymously report anything they see that might have to do with bullying or harassment,” John Van Wyck, director of student services at Page County Public Schools, said. “Really they can report anything from threats to oneself or threats to others they might hear about.”

School officials said the app is easy for students to use — all they have to do it download it with an access code, and then they can report.

One school system that has been using the app this year said it’s helped report incidents the schools don’t normally hear about.

“We’re getting situations that happen on social media and in the community that usually we don’t get into because it’s not school related,” said Douglas Shifflett, assistant superintendent of Augusta County Public Schools. “At least we know these things are happening, and we can hand it over to the correct person who can assist with it.”

Page County Public Schools said all schools in the district will have access to the app later this week.

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‘STOPit’ App Allows Anonymous Reporting of School, Workplace Bullying

EDISON – A smartphone app developed by a New Jersey-based company allows anonymous reporting of bullying and harassment at school and the workplace.

The “STOPit” app allows people a discrete way of reporting bullying, suicidal thoughts or safety issues. It was developed primarily for schools, but has also found its way into the workplace.

“It’s a simple, fast and powerful way for a student in distress to reach out for help,” says STOPit Solutions president Parkhill Mays.

People report the abuse through the app, and a message is sent to school administrators or a company’s human resources department.

“Someone who can then follow up with them through an anonymous messaging platform, send them resources and get them the help they need right there through a platform and device they’re very familiar using every day,” says STOPit manager Johnathan Holmok.

More than 3,400 schools in New Jersey and across the United States have signed up for the app, as well as 180 companies. Some law enforcement departments are also involved.

Company officials say that the goal of the app is to allow people to come forward with things that they might not have otherwise reported.

More information about the app can be found on the company’s website.

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Spirit of the Buffalo: STOPit App Helps Report Bullying

McAlester Public Schools is now using the STOPit app, which allows students to anonymously report incidents to the office via text. Students are encouraged to report anything of concern from bullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

Many times a parent will call the school with a concern informing me of a situation that is going on at their child’s school. The first question I ask is, “Have you talked to the principal?” Why do I ask the parent this question? I am not at each of the schools to know what is going on and I know that there are always two sides to every situation. The number of times I have been told by parents that their child is being bullied and no one will do anything about it is astronomical.

When I ask the parent if they have talked to the principal, the answer is typically no. How can a principal be expected to take care of a bullying allegation when no one has reported it directly to them? As the Superintendent, I wanted to find a way to better address these concerns.

The introduction of the STOPit app will provide our district with an additional resource to help. Students and parents are able to report any incidents or problems that happen at their school anonymously. McAlester Public Schools wants to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to dealing with inappropriate behavior that could lead to otherwise avoidable issues.

When students are comfortable sharing information with teachers, staff, and principals, we then get the information we need to maintain a positive school climate. We work daily to provide students with resources and information that they need to help them academically, physically, and emotionally. Incorporating the STOPit app will give us the ability to address issues early on before a serious situation could occur.

Each school site Pre-K through 12, will provide directions to their parents with information about the app and the passcode for the school. Puterbaugh Middle School is the only site so far to fully implement the STOPit program with their students.

Puterbaugh has been using the app for a little over a month now and have received 36 reports. Visiting with the principal, they have verified that some of the incident reports have been middle school students joking around and trying to be funny, but there have been a couple of valid incident reports. The principals were thankful to be able to handle the situations that were reported and are seeing some very positive results from using the STOPit app. STOPit will be fully implemented across the district.

Parents and students can now download the free app on iPhone and Android. Each school site will have their own ID to allow reporting anonymously. Students will be given the information for them to use and the elementary schools will send the information home to parents.

We hope that the implementation of the STOPit app will provide one additional level of security for our students and staff. You can find more information about the app on our school website: www.mcalester.k12.ok.us.

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Spencer School District Launches Anti-Bullying App

Rocket News – Spencer School District has recently launched the STOPit app! STOPit is an online reporting tool for grade 4-12, designed to deter and mitigate bullying, cyber abuse, and other inappropriate behaviors, consisting of an app and a back-end incident management system for school administrators.

Our students will have access to the STOPit mobile app, which has two simple but powerful features.

1. REPORT can be used by students to report incidents to school contacts anonymously.
2. MESSENGER can be used to engage in anonymous two-way communication with school contacts.


Students can download the app in their app store.

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North Lamar High School and Stone Middle School Enrolling with STOPit to Empower and Protect Students

Paris, Texas, February 20, 2019 – North Lamar High School and Stone Middle School have enrolled with STOPit, the leading technology platform for schools that deters and controls harmful or inappropriate conduct. STOPit empowers students with an easy app to safely and anonymously report anything of concern to school officials – from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm. STOPit empowers students to stand up for themselves and others while giving schools the insight needed to keep students safe.

“Several programs were reviewed before deciding to move forward with STOPit for secondary level students,” said Chandra White, North Lamar ISD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative and Student Services. “North Lamar wanted to ensure that students felt safe to report any incidents that needed to be reported to campus administration. Also, it was crucial to the school district that students had a feeling of security and that the system maintained anonymity. Another key factor in choosing STOPit for the district included real time incident reporting to appropriate campus administrators and ability to act and document quickly.”

With STOPit, students can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos, or video. Administrators are then able to manage incidents in a backend management system called STOPit Admin. STOPit Admin provides efficient and powerful investigative tools to staff, including the ability to message with the reporter, which will allow administrators to address issues instantly.

STOPit does more than just help schools address incidents and mitigate risk. STOPit will also help to go beyond reacting to bullying and inappropriate behavior, and instead start deterring it. As young people continue to engage more with technology every day, a proactive step is being taken to empower students to become Upstanders in communities in the way that they feel most comfortable. It is the belief that the adoption of STOPit is an important step in the continued effort to provide a positive school climate and a safe learning environment for students. North Lamar’s STOPit program launch is scheduled for February 25 at North Lamar High School and February 28 at Stone Middle School.

STOPit is the leading technology company providing software and services that mitigate, deter and control inappropriate conduct. The STOPit solutions are available to schools, universities, workplaces and governments around the world. Anonymous and configurable reporting is available by mobile app, web app and phone tip line empowering individuals to protect themselves and stand up for others as well as reporting safety and crime issues. STOPit provides valuable services to administrators including monitoring their incidents, content about issues and resolutions, training and promotion services, and investigation tools to help get in front of issues and manage risks.

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Texas Teachers Answer Virginia Teen’s Cry for Help, Save Her Life

If there’s one thing school teachers anticipate each day, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Kim Frankson, Jess Johnson and Laurie Ortel work at Ashley Elementary in Frisco.

They’ve perfected the art of multi-tasking but a single text message in December brought it all to a stop.

The message came from an app called “Stop It”, which allows students to report bullying anonymously.

“She was telling me about a situation that was happening with her and some other girls at the school and how it was making her feel,” Johnson, the assistant principal explained.

The student said she was considering killing herself.

“There was no doubt this was a serious situation,” said Ortel, a school counselor.

With the clock ticking, they didn’t have much to go on. They didn’t recognize the student’s name and after a search of a district database, they learned she wasn’t a student in Frisco either.

They asked the student what school she goes to. When she responded, they asked, “Is that in Texas?”

Far from it, they found out.

She was a teenager in Waynesboro, Virginia, a 17-hour drive away.

“I don’t really know if you can describe that feeling. It is something that’s very surreal. The urgency to help this child that you don’t know, that you know she needs help now,” said Frankson, the school principal.

Forty-five minutes into the conversation, the student revealed she had taken pills and was becoming slow to respond.

“At that point, I was really nervous,” Johnson said.

By then, Waynesboro police were on their way.

“I’m just thankful that she opened the door,” said Officer Alison Willis.

Officer Willis said the teen was alert, distressed and home alone.

The teen was taken to a local hospital and is okay.

“I feel like I did my job. That’s what I’m here to do,” said Officer Willis.

“I think we all just looked at each other and it was like we could take a deep breath that we had helped this girl,” Johnson said.

“Every single thing, every single action, every single word that kids say to each other, it’s so important to be kind,” said Ortel.

The entire incident lasted less than an hour.

It’s not clear why the app message went to Frisco and not the girl’s school.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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School Districts Turn to Apps to Help Report Bullying

DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) – Reporting bullying incidents in-person to school faculty and staff can be an uncomfortable experience for students.

But new technology is helping to make it easier and may be helping to curb an age-old problem — bullying, both seen and unseen.

“A kid had taken his mashed potatoes off his tray and smacked the kid in the face,” Day’Jah Williams, a Dickson County High School Senior.

“Talking about people’s intelligence, the way people look,” said Tucker Berry, also a senior at Dickson County H.S. 

“It’s always a continuous struggle,” said Steve Sorrells, Director of Student Services for Dickson County Schools.

District staff said part of the problem is barriers to reporting.

“A lot of times, students are reluctant to report that they are being bullied,” said Melissa Fortner, Assistant Principal at Dickson County H.S. “They don’t want the people to know that they’ve reported or they don’t want to be seen in the office being a tattletale.”

The district’s answer – new technology.

Two years ago, Creek Wood High School implemented the ‘Stop It’ app, which serves as another avenue for students to report bullying – anonymously.

“It allows them to spell out the incident they’re having,” said Fortner. “They can also download pictures if they need.”

“The results of that at the end of the year were so successful for us that we wanted to try to expand that include Dickson County High School as well,” said Sorrells.

“It’s easy, it’s accessible,” said Williams.

Williams and Tucker said the app reaches out to students who may not feel as comfortable addressing faculty, staff, and the school resource officer.

“Most of the time, it’s more of a setback person or a person who doesn’t like speaking out,” said Williams.

“It’s just comforting to know that you can report anonymously through that,” said Berry.

According to the district’s data, bullying reports went down in the first year of using the app.

There were 47 reported cases (2016-17) compared to 137 (2015-16) the year before.

“I feel like having this resource prevents it before it starts,” said Fortner. “Students know they’re on top of those things. ‘If I do this, it’s going to be reported and dealt with.’ Not as apt to do those things as in the past.”

But, the following year in 2017-18, the district’s data shows reports of bullying did go up to 52.

Dickson County school officials tell News 2 fighting bullying goes beyond technology – It takes a comprehensive approach starting with relationships. 

“Our emphasis has not really been on trying to find one answer for a problem, but more so district-wide. Supporting students by building proper relationships,” said Sorrells.

Sorrells said that’s expected district-wide of teachers, school resource officers, and now, with an added tool of technology.

“Just the ability to be in front of things before they happen,” said Sorrells. “We’re getting these reports that people are concerned. Before it blows up into a huge disruption or distraction, administrators are able to get into it and solve problems before they come back.”

Sorrells said ‘Stop It’ has also helped with addressing potential suicides, abuse, and so much more.

Click here to learn more. 

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‘She Became Ours’: How Three Frisco Teachers Answered a Virginia Teen’s Cry for Help

FRISCO — The teenager’s first message arrived late-morning the Thursday before winter break.

At Frisco ISD’s Ashley Elementary School, assistant principal Jess Johnson and counselor Laurie Ortel were in principal Kim Frankson’s office for a weekly meeting when Frankson’s phone lit up with a new notification.

Since the beginning of the school year when the district launched STOPit, an app that allows students and parents to send anonymous reports of bullying or school threats, administrators at Ashley Elementary had not received any notifications.

Now, Frankson was reading a lengthy report aloud as Johnson followed along on her own phone.

It was from a student who had been bullied. She gave her name. The teenager threatened to kill herself, and even gave a date for when she planned to do it.

Right away, the trio knew something wasn’t right. They know every child at Ashley Elementary, and this was not one of their students, nor were any of the bullies named in the message.

Frankson went to her computer to look up the students enrolled at other Frisco campuses. No results.

“Hi, we’re very concerned about you and want to help,” Johnson typed in the app. “Can you tell me your name and what school do you go to?”

The teenager responded immediately. Frankson searched the name of the school on Google and found a result in Waynesboro, Va., about a half-hour west of Charlottesville.

“Is that in Texas?” Johnson asked. No.

“Okay, are you at school today?” No.

Almost 1,200 miles away, a student was in need. Frankson, Johnson and Ortel pushed everything else aside to help her.

“We didn’t know her,” Ortel said this week, “but in that moment, she became ours.”

■ ■ ■

When students or parents first log on to STOPit, they must enter an access code unique to their school. Every week, Frankson sends the code for Ashley Elementary to parents in a weekly email newsletter.

Makers of the app and Frisco ISD officials are unsure how the student in Virginia managed to message the Ashley Elementary administrators. Maybe she mistyped her own school’s code. Maybe she has some unknown connection to Frisco and was able to learn the school’s code. Frisco ISD officials declined to release the girl’s name due to privacy concerns.

Either way, the administrators say it was fortuitous that they happened to be near their phones when this unexpected message arrived.

“I don’t know who she would’ve reached out to,” Frankson said.

After alerting district officials, they moved down the hall to Johnson’s office, closed the door and told office staff they were not to be interrupted. They called the Frisco ISD district office, where more administrators stood by on a speakerphone to offer guidance as Johnson continued to message the student.

Johnson told her she was an administrator in Texas, that she wanted to find a way to help. She asked for more details about the teenager, like what grade she was in.

She found out the student was already on winter break, that no one from her school would have received the app’s message if it had gone to the right school.

Meanwhile, Frankson and Ortel began calling and emailing everyone they could find associated with the school in Virginia. The district’s superintendent, assistant superintendent, principals, teachers, even athletics coaches. No one responded.

Then, messaging by the student suddenly stopped. Johnson kept sending questions but was getting no response.

“Are you still there?” Johnson asked.

Yes, the teen finally responded. Unfortunately.

Frankson decided to call police dispatch in Waynesboro, who passed her information to Officer Alison Willis. The Frisco administrators shared what little information they had with the officer, including the student’s name.

At 12:12 p.m., the teenager stopped messaging again. Johnson continued asking questions, trying to get the student to respond.

“Thank you for finding a way to reach out.” Nothing.

“I’m here to listen and I want to help you!” Nothing.

“We can work it out. Things will get better.” Nothing.

At 12:21, another update. Johnson opened the app.

“She just told me she took pills,” Johnson said aloud.

Frankson called Willis again. The teenager was in danger. The officer needed to find her immediately.

■ ■ ■

Ten long minutes crawled by like hours.

The student wasn’t responding on the app, and there was no word from Willis or anyone in Waynesboro.

Just after 12:30 p.m., some 45 minutes after the first message arrived, Frankson’s phone rang with an out-of-town area code.

“I’ve got her,” Willis said on the other end of the phone. “She’s safe.”

The officer had reached the student at home and was taking her to the hospital. Willis said the teen wouldn’t be responding to messages on the app but that she was OK.

The trio wiped away tears as they closed their laptops and put away their phones.

“Oh, it still gives me chills,” Frankson said this week.

“I just got home and it felt like I’d run a marathon,” Johnson said.

“It was like the biggest weight was lifted off of us,” Ortel said. “We were moving so fast before that, when we found out she was OK it was such a relief.”

They didn’t tell the other teachers or front office staff about the incident, instead quietly discussing it among themselves in the weeks since.

Corey McClendon, the district’s chief student services officer, praised Ashley Elementary administrators at a recent district board meeting, but the other teachers didn’t know about what happened in Johnson’s office that Thursday in December until this week.

“Implementing a program like that potentially saved a young lady’s life that day,” McClendon said at the board meeting. “She contacted the right people.”

Still, hardly a day goes by when Frankson, Johnson and Ortel don’t think about the teenager in Virginia. They’ve heard from officials there that she’s still getting the help she needs, and are relieved.

“We want her to know we still care about her,” Frankson said. “I think about her every single day.”

Although administrators across Frisco ISD receive as many as five STOPit messages every day, Frankson, Johnson and Ortel have only received one — from the teenager who needed help a thousand miles away.

Resources

Here is a partial list of hotlines and websites that offer counseling and resources to help prevent suicide:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Confidential online chat is also available at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

NorthStar/North Texas Behavioral Health Authority: 1201 Richardson Drive, Suite 270, Richardson, Texas 75080. The 24-hour crisis hotline is 1-866-260-8000, or go to www.ntbha.org.

The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas: Call the 24-hour hotline at 214-828-1000 to speak to a trained counselor, or go to www.sccenter.org.

Dallas Metrocare Services: 1-877-283-2121

Grace and Brian Loncar Foundation: The Loncar family recently set up this foundation to help teenagers and families minimize loss and suffering from youth mental illness and suicide. www.graceloncarfoundation.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Funds research and education programs and provides resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk. www.afsp.org.

National Alliance on Mental Illness: National grass-roots mental health organization for people and families affected by mental illness. Resources and information at www.nami.org.

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