David Woodward of Carmel Clay Schools frequently uses a hypothetical scenario to help describe the value of his district’s new school safety app, STOPit.
What if, he says, a student wants to report a friend who is thinking of hurting himself or herself? And what if that student shares the information through an anonymous tool — but refers to that friend by only his or her first name?
If the student is using a reporting tool that doesn’t allow administrators and school resource officers to directly respond to the message for further information, then precious time could be wasted as they search for the student who might be in danger.
Introduced in December, STOPit is an app that allows any Carmel Clay student or parent to report school safety issues and reach out for help at any time. School officials encourage students and parents to use the tool to report bullying as well as issues such as theft, mental health concerns, violence, sexual harassment and substance abuse.
Like Anonymous Alert, the tool that STOPit replaces, the new app allows for anonymous reporting. But STOPit also allows for two-way communication, so school officials can follow up to ask for details that may be critical in addressing an issue like the one in the hypothetical scenario Woodward describes.
“Students really are our eyes and ears, and they know what’s happening before, during and after school,” says Woodward, Carmel Clay Schools’ Director of Student Services. “This allows them, if they see something, to say something. Then our role is to follow up and do something. It’s very important to us to follow up on every report.”
Developed by New Jersey-based STOPit Solutions, the app is in use in districts across the country. Carmel Clay Schools officials spoke to representatives of several of those school corporations before selecting the tool and were impressed by how it had been received in their communities.
Students and parents can download the STOPit app from the App Store or Google Play. To report a concern, they can provide details in writing and share videos and screenshots. Although the reports are anonymous, each school has its own unique code that students and parents enter to connect to the appropriate administrators and SROs.
Students, in particular, find it easier to use an app than to log in to a website or send an email, Woodward says. STOPit does allow students and parents the option of using a desktop computer to report issues if needed, too.
Response to the app has been positive so far, and Woodward cites two instances that led students to mental health resources — help he says they might not have gotten with a less interactive tool. But the simple act of a parent or student recognizing and downloading the app is “a win for our community,” says Courtney Taylor, the district’s community relations liaison.
“You couldn’t find a more caring group,” adds Woodward regarding the Carmel Clay Schools community. “So any tool that will support students is going to get pretty strong support corporation-wide.”
To learn more about Carmel Clay Schools’ STOPit app, visit the “Services” section of the district’s website, ccs.k12.in.us. Then select “Student Services” and “STOPit App.”