February 13, 2018
One in five students in grades 9 through 12, have experienced bullying.
The “STOPit”app gives students the ability to anonymously report instances of bullying.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a hundred percent effective because we wouldn’t have heard about these things without the app,” says Williston High School assistant principal, Jonathan Abuhl.
The reports are sent to school principals and counselors, who investigate the matter and determine the most appropriate approach.
“I think it’s a good idea because sometimes you might not always want to stand up for yourself. So you can do it and no one has to know,” says Williston high school senior, Morgan Squires.
But students can also use the app to report other causes of concern. For instance, students can report a classmate who they believe may be suicidal or engaging in self-harm.
“It’s the anonymity that makes the app precious to us,” says Abuhl.
In addition to making an anonymous report, students can also get emergency help by contacting the crisis call center.
But some have expressed concern that the app might be used for the wrong reasons, such as retaliation against classmates. Still, school administration believes the benefits of the app outweigh any of its disadvantages.
“Could there be some abuse? The abuse is blown away by the benefits of the app,” says Abuhl.
Those benefits include giving staff the opportunity to intervene in situations where students could be a harm to themselves or others.
“This is a tool that we can use to be better informed. To keep our fingers on the pulse of the school district to know this is happening, this is going on,” says Abuhl.
And if the old saying knowledge is power holds true, then being informed gives the school the power to stop the abuse.
KXNews reached out to other school districts in the area to inquire about their bullying prevention efforts. The Bismarck Public School District told us they encourage students to report any concerns to a trusted adult. There is also a “report a bully” form on the school web page.