Schools in Greene County are taking a new step toward ending bullying through use of the STOPit app.
STOPit is a program that allows students to report bullying or other incidents to school counselors or administrators. The students can choose to be anonymous or not send a message with an optional picture or video. This report is then sent to the appropriate authorities at the school.
“STOPit is an app that students and parents alike can use in order to report anonymously,” said Dr. Kyle Pursel, director of administrative services for Greene County Public Schools. “It can be bullying, it can be harassment, it can be threats-anything that they feel is important for us to know.”
The app has a clear and concise goal of creating more “upstanders” instead of bystanders, as the app calls them. Upstanders are people who are willing to step up and say something instead of watching bullying happening.
“I hope that we can have more students be upstanders and help prevent something,” Pursel said. “If we can get them to be more preventative, that will be a benefit to all of us.”
So far, the students are receiving it well, he said. Slowly but surely they’re growing more accustomed to the app; it’s not just the students that are using it, but the teachers are starting to report incidents.
“I think the students are getting more comfortable with the app and in the last few weeks I’ve also seen the teachers using the app and reporting different things,” he said. “It’s great because the mental side for students is a big deal and if a teacher sees or maybe hears something that may be concerning that teacher can share it on the STOPit app.”
The app has already started making progress in the school, according to Pursel, noting that he’s pleasantly surprised by how well the students are receiving it. He and school counselors have been able to help mitigate events while they’re happening instead of after.
“Being an administrator myself at both the middle school and high school levels and knowing how things like this would typically get reported to us, a lot of the time it would be after the fact. Then it’s really hard to go back,” Pursel said.
The STOPit doesn’t just stop at bullying though. It takes on a much larger goal of letting students submit any worry they have. If anything is concerning students, they can use the app to talk with the guidance counselors.
One of the other important functions of STOPit is that it will allow students to report things that they may have not have been comfortable reporting in the past. Pursel noted that STOPit encourages students to report destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse or self-harm.
“You’re not in trouble, but we gotta talk about it,” Pursel said. “That friend, if he or she is cutting, they’re not in trouble. We have to find out what the root cause is and provide assistance. Parents and society, we need to know how frequent it is for students to be cutting.”
While STOPit won’t fix every problem, it’s a step toward a world where people are willing to step up and report bullying instead of passively standing by, he said.
For information on the program, visit stopitsolutions.com.