Social media and smartphones come in handy, but both have also contributed to changes in school culture that make life increasingly more difficult for students.
Bullying, threats of violence and other inappropriate behaviors are carried out using technologies that didn’t exist a decade ago, creating new challenges for school administrators to handle.
Glynn County Schools is working toward solutions. The school system will launch a new program on Feb. 8 called “STOPit,” an app that empowers students to help themselves and others by anonymously reporting problematic behaviors like bullying, cyberbullying, threats, hazing, self-harm and more.
“Our students in Glynn County have continued to express concern about having the ability to anonymously report concerns regarding safety, to include bullying and threats of harm without there being ridicule from their peers,” said Senetra Haywood, director of student services for Glynn County Schools, in a press release. “It is our hope that STOPit will meet that need for our students.”
Students can use the app, which is free to download, to submit anonymous reports that contain text messages, photos or videos. Their messages will be sent to school administrators, who will then have the ability to message the student who reports, conduct investigations and manage and mitigate risks in schools.
The STOPit platform includes a mobile app and back-end tracking and management system. Administrators will be equipped with STOPit Admin, a comprehensive, streamlined, cloud-based incident management system that also helps schools identify trends and send alerts.
“We are hopeful that during this implementation, Glynn County students will utilize this tool for its intended purpose, and our school administrators will be able to more effectively address any safety concerns that may arise in their schools,” Haywood said.
Glynn County Schools has seen an increase recently in the number of schoolwide threats made by students. Threats have been written on school walls, posted on social media or sent out through schoolwide messages.
The rise in threats follows a national trend that has surged since the school shooting last year in Parkland, Fla.
The STOPit app is available to schools, universities, workplaces and governments. The program provides administrators with a tool to maintain better control of school climate.
The app will be piloted in Glynn County for students in grades 5-12. The app can be downloaded through the Apple Store and on Google Play.
“We believe our adoption of STOPit is an important step in our continued effort to provide a positive school climate and a safe learning environment for our students,” Haywood said.