For those who don’t feel comfortable reporting directly to a trusted adult, some schools offer a different option.
More than 180 Tennessee schools have partnered with STOPit, an anonymous reporting app that allows students to share concerns about dangerous or hurtful actions toward themselves or others.
Through the app, a student can send a chat message about any concern. On the other end, a designated school administrator or school resource officer sees the report — without a student’s name attached — and can respond to the student.
It puts the “see something, say something” thought into action, without making a student feel vulnerable or singled out.
The STOPit company has added 100 schools across the state in the last nine months and now serves counties including Wilson, Bradley, Bedford and White.
The app has helped Maury County administrators address bullying, hazardous activity on buses and threats of self-inflicted harm, Dr. Robb Killen, supervisor of counseling and mental health for Maury County Public Schools, told The Tennessean early this year.
The app does open itself to phony or illicit reports, particularly when students return from summer vacation or a holiday break, but school representatives on the administrative side of the app usually can catch and defuse false claims.
The power of the app is that it allows targets of bullying or abuse — or friends who may feel anxious or depressed — know that they’re not alone. Someone is standing up for them.
“If they don’t know how to access help or they feel like nobody cares about them, that’s the worst-case scenario,” says Lauren Dickson, a social worker and clinical supervisor at STARS. “In those situations, problems just get bigger. They can fester.”