January 29, 2019

    Franklin Students Getting New Way to Report Safety Concerns

    To curb bullying and suspicious activity, Franklin schools will ask students to start using an anonymous reporting app.

    The program, called StopIT, will allow students to communicate with administrators without having their identities revealed. They can share text, photos or videos, once the app is functioning, the school said in a news release.

    School leaders are implementing the app now and hope to have students using it by the end of the school year, said Jeff Sewell, Franklin Schools director of operations.

    Keeping communication anonymous will increase the likelihood of stopping harmful behavior, Sewell said.

    “The vast majority of cases where a safety issue was averted was through a tip provided by students,” Sewell said. “We need to do it through a relationship with students, but students don’t want to be a snitch. It’s important to provide an anonymous tip reporting system to help students who are struggling or those who have ill intentions in our school district.”

    The district previously had a link for people to submit anonymous bullying tips to administrators, Spokesperson Robin Betts said. The new system is an improvement in that students can also report to administrators regarding other suspicious activity and also students who may be struggling emotionally. Unlike the previous system, StopIT also allows for continuous conversation between the anonymous tipster and the administrator.

    A committee picked the STOPit app out of four possible systems because it was easiest to use, Sewell said. The app will cost the district $1 per student per year to implement. With the app, administrators will be able to communicate with students while they remain anonymous, Sewell said. The app also shows how many students are engaging with it, he said.

    “It’s very much in tune with our guiding principles of using data to drive our work and decisions,” Sewell said.

    Other schools use different systems for anonymous reporting. At Indian Creek and Clark-Pleasant schools, students can report bullying and threats through an online link provided by the district. Like with the StopIT app, students at Clark-Pleasant can submit photos and videos along with messages.

    At Center Grove, students use the SafeSCHOOLS alert mobile app, which allows students to text, use the web, email or phone tips in.

    Carmel Clay Schools recently started using the StopIT system, Sewell said.

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