Kids can now be armed with one more strategy to stop bullying: their own cell phones. Currently about one in four students is bullied on a regular basis in school, so putting the power in their hands is more important than ever. In response to the growing bullying problem in schools, a number of companies have rolled out services that allow students to anonymously report bullying incidents to their school administrators and officials.
Blackboard, a leading company in educational technology and programs, is one of those companies who now has a service called TxtTip for reporting bullying behavior via cellphone. Other districts across the country are using Tip 411, a system originally for sending tips to police that can now send tips to school officials about bullying, abuse, depression, etc.
Why it works
Students, especially those middle school-aged, tend to communicate more comfortably through technology. They may be nervous to come forward face-to-face with a school administrator they barely know, but would be okay with sending a confidential, tip in a text. Both TxtTip and Tip 411 are completely anonymous, so students don’t have to worry about their name being associated with “tattling.” With this option, the fear of intimidation is eliminated.
Tip texting services are also effective because they are fast. Students can use their mobile devices, such as a Samsung Galaxy, to send information while it’s happening instead of waiting and sitting on the information. Not only can this help intervene in bullying that is occurring, but it can also prevent it from starting. If students are sending in texts as soon as they know about any plans of bullying, school officials can intervene and stop the problem before it escalates into a full blown incident.
According to recent studies, in 85 percent of school bullying incidents no intervention is taken place by school officials. This could all change with new bully policies in school districts and new technologies to report incidents and threats.
Tip 411 is an anonymous service and while in theory, the idea of anonymous tip texting is a good one because it protects the student from any retaliation, it can have some drawbacks as well.
For one, school officials and police officers don’t know who is sending the tips, so it’s hard to know without investigating every tip which are legit and which could a false alarm. It’s also possible that students could abuse the anonymity of the tip line to leave false information about students they don’t like.
Blackboard’s TipTxt, on the other hand, is confidential, but not totally anonymous. The service can track the phone number associated with each text.
The bottom line
Both Tip 411 and TipTxt are free (with only the cost of adding a tip line) for school districts to use and easy for students to operate. They are a quick and efficient way for students to take care of each other and make their schools a safer place to be.