MILWAUKEE — The $100 million for school safety grants, from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, is allowing Seton Catholic Schools to buy a mobile app, called STOPit, that combat bullies.
The schools received more than $464,000 for safety updates to all 14 of its schools.
The Director of Student Services, Sam Coleman, says schools have installed new locks, cameras, intercom systems, and shatterproof film to glass. He agrees that making the schools more secure is incredibly important, but it’s also imperative they focus on their students’ mental health and wish to feel safe.
“We want students to feel empowered to lead. We want students to feel empowered to use their voice and speak up,” said Coleman.
Wednesday, at Blessed Sacrament Elementary, grades four through eight learned about STOPit. Granted, Santiago Andreas Hernandez Bustos says he hasn’t seen any bullying at his school, Saint Ramos. He still thinks it’s important to talk about.
“It matters because it’s people’s feelings,” said Bustos. “If I ever see bullying I’ll use the STOPit app.”
However, Katelyn Doepke, who attends Saint Charles Borromeo, says she’s had to step in and stand up for bullying victims.
“I do see bullying and it’s a big problem because kids have been very sad,” said Doepke.
The STOPit app allows students to anonymously report bullying, cyberbullying or any threats. The school then receives the message and handles the situation from there. Coleman says it’s very helpful in the cases of online issues, because being sent direct screenshots help tell the story.
Saint Charles Borromeo’s Principal Courtney Albright says when it comes to school safety, everyone has a part they must play, not just the students or the school.
“Absolutely, it’s really important that we approach this as a team. So that the students know that parents, teachers, the principals, the school staff are really all on the same page. We want them to feel safe at school,” said Albright.
Seton Catholic administrators say using technology, like the STOPit app, can truly help fight bullying in a different way.