An Arizona school district wants students to report bullying and safety issues, and it recently partnered with a mobile phone application to allow students to make anonymous complaints directly to administrators.
The Thatcher Unified School District – which includes about 1,600 students in four schools – partnered with the anti-bullying app Anonymous Alerts in late March “to provide the best and most easily accessible outlet for students to share concerns with the administration,” according to a statement cited by the Eastern Arizona Courier.
“We prioritize a safe school climate for our students at Thatcher USD and want to enhance our bullying prevention tools,” TUSD Superintendent Kevin Spiller told the news site. “By implementing this anonymous reporting system, students can protect their peers, have more options to share their concerns with school officials and easily access the app on their mobile devices.”
There is a certain irony to the application of this app as “anonymity” is being used to foster greater accountability. Moral education researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia encourage all steps that increase the “thickness” and “density” of the moral community. They have found that “[T]he sources and settings for moral and civic education matter—that the ‘thickness’ of cultural endowments and the ‘density’ of moral community within which those endowments find expression are significant in the formation of personal and public virtue in children.” Not only does this app make reporting problems more likely, but equally important it provides a host of timely resources for the students. This is a winning combination.
The app allows student and families to send incident reports to school officials directly, and to attach a photo, video or screenshot as evidence. School officials plan to monitor the system between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on school days.
Anonymous Alerts is available for free on the Apple Store, Google Play and Chrome Store, and students and families received an activation code specific to TUSD to submit reports. The app allows students to submit complaints anonymously or to revel their identity, and also includes resources on bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and mental health issues.
The two-way communications app is available in both English and Spanish, according to the news site.
“We are honored to launch Anonymous Alerts at Thatcher USD and empower their students to ‘stand up and report it’ to bolster student sensitivity for issues and concerns,” Anonymous Alerts CEO T. Gregory Bender said.
Numerous schools across the country are already using Anonymous Alerts, including Newtown Public Schools – where a school shooting in 2012 left 17 students and staff dead.
Mark Pompano, director of security in the Connecticut school district, touts the benefits of the app on the Anonymous Alerts website.
“We have seen a significant drop in both bad behavior and safety concerns,” he said, “creating a more positive school climate.”
For more on increasing “thickness” of moral endowments and “density” of community see James Davison Hunter and Ryan Olson’s The Content of Their Character.
Teachers and principals interested in addressing bullying in their school may go to the following website for support: https://www.duckbrand.com/promotions/sticktogether