WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Waco Independent School District launched the “STOPit” application at the start of October with the hope of addressing bullying and other threats.
The app allows students, their families, or anyone in the community to give anonymous tips using pictures, videos, and text.
“It’s a tool that allows for two-way communication,” Dr. Rachelle Warren Assistant Superintendent for Student Services & Support, said.
“They can submit reports anonymously and can be about anything so any concerning behavior.”
Hope Balfa-Mustakim has two kids in Waco and says addressing issues of mental health and bullying is needed.
“As a social worker, I understand the implications that mental health has on the child being bullied, the children that witness bullying, and even the children who are doing the bullying,” she said.
Balfa-Mustakim says these issues can be seen right here in our area and can influence students in more ways than one. That’s why tools to report it are so important.
“Mental health and bullying have such a dramatic impact on student performance, their ability to learn, and the climate of the campus where they feel safe and can learn because they feel safe,” Balfa-Mustakim said.
Waco ISD leaders are hoping the app “STOPit” will open that door of communication and say they are already seeing signs of that.
Dr. Warren says in the month of October, dozens of reports have come in on the app from elementary, middle, and high school levels and go directly to an administrator.
“It really allows us to tap into really the most important voice within our community and to see things from their perspective,” Dr. Warren said.
“Every single report we have gotten so far really has connected us to important information.”
Easy access to reporting has parents like Hope thankful for this step to protect our children and keep everyone safe.
“It’s just one piece of the mental health pie for our district but it’s a huge one,” Balfa-Mustakim said.
“Something accessible that even if you don’t have phone service, you can still get on WIFI. Hopefully, it makes our kids not only be safer but feel safer.”
The app is accessible on any Waco ISD device or can be downloaded through the app store on your own devices.
Funding for the platform is being provided through the Stop School Violence Act by a Department of Justice grant awarded to ESC Region 12 last October.
“We are grateful to Region 12 for providing us the opportunity to utilize this very valuable tool,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, superintendent. “Providing a safe way for students to report any harm or if they feel in danger is just another layer of protection for their well-being. While STOPit won’t replace the relationships that we want staff to build with our students, we hope the app will encourage them to feel safer reporting bullying or other concerns and not fear retaliation.”
More information and resources including videos and FAQs can be foundonline.