WEBB CITY, MISSOURI – According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20 percent of high school students nationwide have experienced bullying and the majority of them do not report it to adults. The Webb City School District looks to improve those statistics with a mobile application.
In the era of social media, it’s very easy for students to hide behind technology to bully others. The Webb City School District is looking to combat harassment with another form of technology, a mobile app used to report incidents.
“The student may not be willing to go to the school, they may not be willing to go to mom or dad but you know everybody has a little bit of a comfort level with a piece of technology, we’ve gotten very safe with those,” says Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent with the district.
The district purchased the “stop it” app so students can seek help without an intimidating trip to the principal’s office.
“By providing this app and giving them a nice easy way to make a report if somebody is having some issues, we just feel it goes a long way to ensuring the safety of kids here at school whether they’re reporting something for themselves or their friend,” says Cooper.
Teachers and students agree bullying is an issue nationwide and Webb City is no exception.
“Over the years of teaching you see a lot of things and sometimes maybe you think it’s serious and the kid does not or maybe you don’t see anything at all and the kids are dealing with something that we don’t ever get to see,” says Amanda Eggleston, a teacher at the high school.
“I definitely think that it is an issue whether students want to admit it or not. I think that it is something that does need to be addressed,” says student Ellie Dagnan.
The app will allow students to report incidents of bullying or harassment anonymously if they choose. Another feature will give them the option of which administrator or teacher to report to.
“Whoever that report goes to does have the opportunity to message back and forth with the student so if we need more information about hey which student needs help, is this student you, we can talk to them back and forth through another confidential way,” says Cooper.
And students say the app would make them more comfortable reporting problems to administrators. The school district plans to start implementing the stop it app in the high school and junior high school when they come back from winter break. Another feature will give students access to helpful numbers like a suicide or abuse hotline.