PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Classes begin Thursday for students in Putnam County, and from day one, school administrators are cracking down on bullying.
They’re doing it through an app that gives students a platform to report things anonymously.
Bullying in the classroom often transcends in this day and age to social media.
Phyllis Atkinson is a grandmother of students in the Putnam County school system and worries about other children being harassed by their peers.
“They grow up and feel like they don’t matter,” Atkinson said. “(they) go inward and not want to have any socialization at all, or do something maybe worse.”
Putnam County Schools are on a mission to empower and protect students with new technology that could stop bullying in its tracks.
The “Stop It” app is a tool for students to anonymously report issues in or out of school, whether it’s cyberbullying and harassment or threats of violence or self-harm.
“We want kids to feel comfortable here, so this is a way for them to let us know what’s going on,” Matt Shock, Winfield Middle School Principal, said.
School leaders say students may submit the anonymous tip in the privacy of their bedroom, in their car, or anywhere, to make a report about the things going on in their life.
Administrators built a profile for each county school with its own identifying code that students will receive on the first day of school. From that point on, they can anonymously send information, including pictures and videos, to designated staff members at each school.
“Those folks are able to get that information immediately, and there can be two-way communication between the person who submitted it and the administrator,” Danielle Gillispie, school administrator, said.
Staff members are then able to log information and manage incidents in a back-end system that can be referenced at a later time.
“We can investigate it, try to get to the bottom of it, and kids need to be able to communicate that,” Shock said.
The app will officially launch Thursday in Putnam County Schools, and while there will likely be a few kinks to work out, school officials think the app is a proactive approach to a nationwide issue.
“It’s another level of protection we can give our students and get conversations rolling on how to keep our schools safe,” Gillispie said.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea. Anybody that sees anything going on, they don’t have to be afraid. You’re helping that friend to not go through what you went through,” Atkinson said.