The San Antonio Independent School District launched a pilot program Monday that allows students at Irving Middle School to report bullying through a smartphone app called “Stop Bullies.”
The app was created a year and a half ago by Tim Porter, of San Antonio, who is president & CEO of Appdiction Studio.
The app is customized for each school that uses it and allows students to report instances of bullying anonymously and include pictures or a one-minute video.
“It will be reported and then submitted to myself and the other administrators to do our investigation,” said Irving principal Michael Jordan.
And the reports are received in real time. Once one is submitted, push notifications are sent to administrators.
“A lot of people don’t like to report bullying or teasing because they think if they report it, they’ll just get hurt even more,” said Irving 7th-grader Giovanni Rocha.
Students can choose whether to include their names and contact information in the report, which eliminates what can sometimes be can intimidating process of reporting bullying face-to-face to teachers and staff.
“For some reason, kids have that fear,” said Jordan. “So this gives them an anonymous way to do that. And they can report if for themselves or for a friend.”
The app is also being used at St. Anthony Catholic School, Incarnate Word High School, Metzger Middle School in Judson ISD and on three Southwest ISD schools.
The app is also used in outside of Texas and being expanded into Mexico.
Irving is the only school participating in the pilot program funded by the non-profit Health Collaborative.
“We are initially offering the opportunity to fund and pilot the project at three campuses per school district so the opportunity is open for everyone,” said Elizabeth Lutz, with Health Collaborative.
SAISD does not allow students to use cell phones during school hours, but Irving is making an exception throughout the pilot program.
The district says it will revisit that policy as it evaluates the success of the program over the next six weeks as the 2012-2013 school year wraps up.