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STOPit: Fighting Bullying

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What kid hasn’t used the directive “Stop it!” in some form or fashion? Run those words together and you’ve got new school technology aimed at averting issues such as bullying.

STOPit is designed for students, because life can be difficult. It’s not always easy for students to speak up about cyberbullying or even self-harm.

Dee Crabtree, Bedford County Schools coordinator of school health, recently discussed this new technology with Bedford County Board of Education. She informed the group that the STOPit mobile app provides a safe, anonymous and comfortable way for students to share emergency information with educators.

Safe and effective

“We recently introduced the STOPit app to our students,” said Crabtree. “It’s geared toward students third through 12th grade. It helps students prevent such issues . . . that which negatively impacts the learning environment.”

Crabtree advised board members that the mobile app is currently being used in 30 Tennessee school districts. The school systems have insurance partnerships which help reduce cost.

Each student has access to an individual code. School administrators and their designees are responsible for monitoring student use.

Most schools, Crabtree said, have downloaded the app on school devices, so even those without mobile phones can access it. She showed the school board a short video.

Easy to use

It’s virtually as simple as one click. Once the app is downloaded, students enter their personal access code. If students want to report bullying, they simply open the app, tap the report button, then send a message.

Board member Glenn Forsee asked. “To whom?”

“The principal and his or her designee . . . whoever they want to receive it,” said Crabtree.

Superintendent Don Embry said some school resource officers (SROs) receive student messages. Embry said principals were trained as well as students on proper use of the application.

“It just wasn’t just thrown out there,” said Embry. “They’ve gone through how to use it.”

Local effect

The superintendent said in just about three months, there have been some bullying incidences halted. He said some kids have just played with the app, which is to be expected.

“This is just one measure ... one way to help a child,” said Embry. “They can do it anonymously.”

Embry said the app is being highly recommended by Tennessee Risk Management Trust, which is the school system’s insurance provider. He has discussed the technology with other educators across the state, noting STOPit receives positive reviews.

“We’re still working out those kinks,” said Embry. “Once it settles down, it will be a really good reporting method.”

Forsee said because of social media, and the plethora of information available, he asked about a firewall of protection. Crabtree said the STOPit education solutions company is responsible for protecting a student’s private information.

Off-hours

Board member Brian Crews asked Crabtree about their plans if the volume of calls becomes greater than the people available to respond to student messages. Crews, who is also acting deputy chief of the Shelbyville Police Department, explained there is a possibility that student complaints could go to a database at 7:30 a.m. or 9 p.m. when no one is monitoring. He asked how those calls would be monitored.

“That’s one of the kinks . . . what constitutes an emergency,” said Embry. “Those are things that need to be checked on.”

Board member Diane Neeley said Liberty School rolled out information about the new app on Facebook. School principals also have posters up advising students to become involved in STOPit.

As for misuse of the technology, Embry noted it falls under the same guidelines as abuse of any other school resources. “If a student misuses it ... false reports, they can be banned or blocked out from the program.”

Background

STOPit founder Todd Schobel was driving home from work on a normal day when a story on the radio changed his life forever.

The story the STOPit creator heard was that of the tragic story of Amanda Todd, a victim of online predation and the cruel and relentless taunting by her peers. Amanda took her own life at just 15 years of age.

Amanda had shared her story via flashcards in a YouTube video that caught the world’s attention. Overcome with a sense of urgency, Schobel believed the key to helping people like Amanda was to empower them to use the same technology that was inflicting a lot of hurt.

In that moment, STOPit was born.

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