Spirit of the Buffalo: STOPit App Helps Report Bullying

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McAlester Public Schools is now using the STOPit app, which allows students to anonymously report incidents to the office via text. Students are encouraged to report anything of concern from bullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

Many times a parent will call the school with a concern informing me of a situation that is going on at their child’s school. The first question I ask is, “Have you talked to the principal?” Why do I ask the parent this question? I am not at each of the schools to know what is going on and I know that there are always two sides to every situation. The number of times I have been told by parents that their child is being bullied and no one will do anything about it is astronomical.

When I ask the parent if they have talked to the principal, the answer is typically no. How can a principal be expected to take care of a bullying allegation when no one has reported it directly to them? As the Superintendent, I wanted to find a way to better address these concerns.

The introduction of the STOPit app will provide our district with an additional resource to help. Students and parents are able to report any incidents or problems that happen at their school anonymously. McAlester Public Schools wants to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to dealing with inappropriate behavior that could lead to otherwise avoidable issues.

When students are comfortable sharing information with teachers, staff, and principals, we then get the information we need to maintain a positive school climate. We work daily to provide students with resources and information that they need to help them academically, physically, and emotionally. Incorporating the STOPit app will give us the ability to address issues early on before a serious situation could occur.

Each school site Pre-K through 12, will provide directions to their parents with information about the app and the passcode for the school. Puterbaugh Middle School is the only site so far to fully implement the STOPit program with their students.

Puterbaugh has been using the app for a little over a month now and have received 36 reports. Visiting with the principal, they have verified that some of the incident reports have been middle school students joking around and trying to be funny, but there have been a couple of valid incident reports. The principals were thankful to be able to handle the situations that were reported and are seeing some very positive results from using the STOPit app. STOPit will be fully implemented across the district.

Parents and students can now download the free app on iPhone and Android. Each school site will have their own ID to allow reporting anonymously. Students will be given the information for them to use and the elementary schools will send the information home to parents.

We hope that the implementation of the STOPit app will provide one additional level of security for our students and staff. You can find more information about the app on our school website: www.mcalester.k12.ok.us.

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