Local school districts using app to stop bullying

A local district is adopting a new app to help stop bullying.
A local district is adopting a new app to help stop bullying.(KWTX)
Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 11:08 AM CST
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SWACO, Texas (KWTX) - Bullying can be an issue in schools, and kids can be downright mean on the internet, but local school districts have a new option to help out.

It’s called STOPit, and it’s an app students and even parents can use to anonymously report bullying issues in schools.

The app is available to all school districts in Education Service Center Region 12 thanks to a grant from the Department of Justice.

ESC Region 12 education specialist Heather Wheeler said she looked at many different options before deciding on the STOPit app.

Wheeler said there are a lot of features about the app that she thinks will be beneficial to students and administrators, like the option for real-time conversations.

Wheeler said students can use the app to message adminstrators any time of day, and the messages are always monitored by STOPit, even if adminstrators might be sleeping.

If there is a situation where a student’s life may be in danger, police can be dispatched directly.

Wheeler said she hopes students will actually use the app to report problems, which could be easier since it’s anonymous and simple to use.

“To have a way that they don’t have to have that face to face interaction, at least at first,” Wheeler said. “It just increases the opportunity that they’re going to say something.”

Hico ISD is one of the first school districts to start using the app. Assistant Superintendent Shelli Stegall said the schools have been using a Google form to report bullying, but she thinks this will be a better option.

Stegall said students can be mean, especially online behind a screen. She said the district doesn’t have a major bullying problem, but it can happen, and it’s something the district always wants to address.

Stegall said when the district sent students home with Chromebooks to learn virtually, they were being sent home with another tool they could use to bully others.

While Stegall said that wasn’t how the district thought of it at the time, that was the case, and having the app is going to be just another avenue for them to prevent bullying.

Stegall added that real time messaging options is a big benefit for them.

“That’s where we can ask questions because with our current bullying report, we can’t ask any questions,” Stegall said. “So we look at the information they gave us and we think, wonder which class this happened.”

She added it’s also a great way for them to be able to tell students who report issues that those issues are being looked into, or they’ve been resolved.

“The fact that we can go back and say ‘Hey, we got your report. We’re concerned about this, we’re going to try and help you, please let us know if it doesn’t get taken care of’ because with our other bullying report we can’t go back,” Stegall said. “It kind of just hangs out there unless they hear about us talking to the person they had a problem with, they don’t know we dealt with it.”

Stegall said the district plans to start using the app in January.

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