NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Social media often fuels bullying and harassment among teens, but it can also be used to prevent violence.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the New Rochelle school district has introduced a new app to keep students safe.
Safety has dominated the conversation at New Rochelle High School after one student was slashed and two others were stabbed last month, including 16-year-old Valaree Schwab who was killed in a dispute off campus.
“Even my daughter, she tries to keep her head down,” mother Leslie Ashley told Bauman. “You want them to say something and stand up for other kids, but then you get sucked in also and it might turn on you too.”
Anonymous Alerts, a free smartphone app for students, extends the zero-tolerance policy for bullying beyond school walls.
“Seventy percent of students nationwide would not report something unless it’s anonymous,” President and CEO Gregory Bender said.
Students can anonymously report incidents of bullying, violence, drugs or alcohol on campus, among others, directly to the administration, which is then responsible for investigating and vetting credible reports.
“We see a 50 percent drop in bad behavior in the first six months,” said Bender. “Bad behavior can be bullying, cyber harassment, self-harm.”
More than 5,000 schools across the country are using Anonymous Alerts. As of this week, that includes the New Rochelle school district.
But who is reading the reports and how are they determining which are credible?
“We do have administrators monitoring the app and forwarding it to the various buildings as they come in to make sure they are investigated,” New Rochelle School District Director of Technology Michael Tromblee said. “Primarily principals and vice principals.”
Bauman: “What’s the vetting process for determining which reports are credible and which are bogus?”
Tromblee: “It’s the same if a student was to come into our offices as administrators and say, ‘I’m bullied, I’m being harassed face-to-face.’ We have to do our due diligence, and investigating both sides, and making sure every party gets due process.”
The developers claim 97 percent of reports through the app nationwide are credible.
Will that statistic hold true in the New Rochelle school district? That’s up to the students.
The app also provides students resources for handling bullying and other social issues.