US, UK Schools Mull Instituting Apps to Report Bullying

In the UK, the education secretary is considering allowing children to report bullying on their mobile phones. Matthew Holehouse, writing for The Telegraph, says the proposal was contained in a report given to Morgan at an event organized by Asda this week. Secretary Nicky Morgan, who is also examining proposals that would allow parents to submit permission slips for school trips on their smart phones, is all for the idea.

The Press Association adds that Morgan thinks the phone app for reporting bullying and for allowing parents to sign permission slips from their phones could make a "big difference for mums across the country". Morgan continued by suggesting that teachers and parents need support in keeping their children safe online, and, at the same time suggested that breakfast clubs and after-school activities help increase the usefulness of school buildings.

Morgan, who is also minister to women, said that mothers should not be afraid to point out examples of sexism in kids' literature. She also believes that schools should provide three meals a day and that school hours should be extended.

"You can really expand a child's horizons by the extra-curricular activities they can do, and also potentially providing a place for homework, supportive extra learning, and maybe some tea in the afternoon."

Here in the US, Julie Marsh of CoolMomTech writes that while bullying is getting so much attention these days, it continues to be a problem. But the Sprigeo online reporting system could make the scary situation of reporting a bullying incident easier for everyone. This free app offers anonymous, detailed reporting, along with accountability and analytics, too. Kids, teachers, coaches, or other staff can report bullying from the app or the Sprigeo site. Sprigeo alerts the designated administrators that there is a report so they can take action.

Administrators can then identify the type of incident and potential motivating circumstances. Any actions which are taken are logged along with notes. The detail of the reporting section of the app is impressive, as kids can also report cases of eating disorders, drugs or alcohol, weapons, or depression. The report will also assist in picking up recurring aggressors and targets.

The subscription is $695 annually, plus an installation fee, but discounts are offered for multiple schools or entire districts. Over 500 schools across the country are currently using Sprigeo, including all of Howard County, Maryland.

WDAF-TV, Platte County, MO., reports that Platte City Middle School was the first in Missouri to start using Sprigeo.

"The smartphones are the way that kids communicate," said Dr. Chris Miller, principal at Platte City Middle School. "At 12 o'clock at night, if I am at home my phone will notify me of an incident that has been reported," said Dr. Miller.

Students are saying that it become less intimidating to report an incident when they can report through Sprigeo. Miller says that so far this school year he has received six reports. Last year he received between 50 and 75 reports. The walls of the middle school are lined with posters reminding students to use the website when they have been a part of or have witnessed an incident of bullying.

"If they're getting bullied, physically sometimes, or some people are making fun of their clothing of their looks, and it can be verbal or cyber-bullying, those kinds of situations," eighth grade student Carli Hensley said.

The app has been so successful that Platte County Schools just started using it at Platte County High School and Barry Elementary School. Educators hope that it will be available in all the schools in the district soon.

10 1, 2014
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