Bryan Independent School District ends Bullying Prevention month with a lasting impression on its 16,000 students through launching a new feature to its existing smartphone application Thursday. The app allows students to anonymously report bullying or harassment tips along with a photograph.
“Any time you are working on reducing a hostile environment for bullying, you want to increase communication," said Principal Brandon Jayroe of Stephen F. Austin Middle School. "You want to do anything to bring more voices into the circle.”
The new feature of the smartphone app enables more dialogue between students and administrators; especially for those who would not ordinarily speak up when bullied.
According to statistics provided by Bryan ISD, among the nearly 16,000 students in the district, roughly 145 instances of bullying occur each year.
“We believe the number of reported instances will raise turning this app feature on," said Brandon Webb, Bryan ISD Spokesman. "That may be positive in the sense that more instances are not going unreported.”
Jayroe said he personally feels responsible for educating students in various areas, including social skills. “Bullying is a perception and whether it’s a valid perception or misperception; it is valid in the child’s mind or in the parent’s mind.”
Jayroe hopes the phone app will lead to more meetings among administrators, parents and students, helping to bridge the gap of misunderstanding.
According to the Student Code of Conduct, bullying and harassment extend beyond physical violence or intimidation and can include electronic or cyber bullying. Jayroe said school officials take it very seriously and have a tight grip on social media use for students while on school grounds.
Webb added the app's photo option can provide additional proof to investigators, lessening the chances of a "he said, she said" type of situation.
“The ability for people to take photos on their smart phone have really amped up the level of capability the investigators can make use of in determining what happened, when it happened, what was reported is accurate,” said Webb.
The smartphone app is available for free on the iPhone and Android.