HOOPESTON, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — Hoopeston Area School District is tackling bullying in a new way.
It’s called “Stopit,” a district-wide app that allows students and parents to anonymously report bullying or harassment.
That report then goes to the administration who investigates its credibility and takes action if needed.
“Our school is all about student safety. First and foremost, that is our priority,” said John Klaber, Hoopeston High School principal.
The app is available on phones and online, allowing students to access it 24/7. It also allows anyone who witnessed bullying to report it, too.
“It gives the ability to not have to go into the principal’s office,” Klaber said. “There is this stigma that if I am going to the principal’s office, either I am in trouble or being a tattletale, this truly takes that away.”
Since it launched in the fall, the high school received about 40 reports. The middle school, on the other hand, saw a lot more with 250. About 60 percent of those reports were credible.
“There are a lot of instances where someone will say I saw this and you go and you consider it and it really wasn’t anything big, but at least the kids know someone is looking out for them,” said Michelle White, Hoopeston Middle School principal.
The principals said in the beginning, many students were abusing the app to see if it really works. Eventually they gave lessons on how and what to report.
“But then we are immediately texting them and saying, ‘Hey what’s going on? What can we help you with? Can you give us more?'” said Klaber.
The app also allows, users to upload photos or videos, which they say helps when incidents happen online or on social media.
“We can’t be everywhere all the time, so this is just one more way that we can keep a pulse on what is happening in our building,” White said.
Plus, it’s become a direct line to those students who might need immediate help.
“To be able to give a voice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is something very powerful,” Klaber said.