Unfortunately, bullying and cyberbullying are topics all too-familiar to students in schools. A bill passed on June 9, known as David’s Law, has required school districts to enforce a way to report bullying. By September all schools must introduce an opportunity for students to report without feeling singled out.
Industrial ISD is the first school district in Jackson County to handle the problem, with the app STOPit that was presented to the high school students during an assembly Sept. 18.
“Choosing to use STOPit was the best way for us to comply with the law,” Jim Green, Industrial principal said. “And the safest. Some students don’t feel comfortable talking to me or one of the officials, and this gives them a way to do that, and an easy way for us to follow-up on the reports.”
Made for Android and Iphone users, the STOPit app is a free, anonymous two-way system and it works in realtime, giving immediate attention to harmful or inappropriate situations.
“Phones and social media have given students an insular world teachers have no clue about,” Todd Schobel, STOPit founder, said. “The genius of STOPit is that it’s giving administrators a window into that world in a way they can intervene and protect at-risk children.”
The app is easy to use, and with only a few buttons to choose from the anonymous reports can contain text, photos, or video. School administrators receive a message instantly and can message back anonymously and/or manage the incident through a system called DOCUMENTit.
“The success of the app will depend on Upstanders, someone who will not stand by when they see something that isn’t okay,” Schobel said. “When you see something: say something.”
STOPit should be an empowering tool for students who might feel too embarrassed or anxious to report an instance of abuse or bullying.
The endgame is to cause students to think twice before unacceptable conduct, and discourage the behavior.
False reports are a concern Green has with the STOPit app, but if a situation arises of continuous false reports, administrators can block the user for an extended amount of time. “Hopefully kids are responsible enough to only report things that are actually happening,” he said.
Barbara Sides, IHS assistant principal, said a letter will be sent to student’s home for all the students in the IISD schools, especially for the parents of younger children.
To learn more about the application and its origins, visit stopitsolutions.com. STOPit is available for businesses and government entities as well.
Ganado ISD superintendent Dr. John Hardwick said school officials will choose a route this week to comply with David’s Law, and Edna superintendent Robert O’Connor said there is a button on their website, ednaisd.org, to report bullying, and another option through their Edna ISD app.
Cyberbullying is now classified as a Class B misdemeanor since Sept. 1, but the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the offender has been previously convicted of cyberbullying, or the bullying was towards an under 18-year-old victim with the intent the minor commit suicide or self-inflict harm.