Blackboard develops anonymous texting hotline to report bullying | Corona, CA

Bullying in the news

By Rebecca Forand/South Jersey Times

In the ever-increasing fight against bullying at the elementary and high school level, Blackboard, an education technology company, has introduced a way for students to anonymously text in reports.

Blackboard Inc.’s TipTxt program is aimed at young students who have moved to texting as their main form of communication. The confidential texts will be routed to school officials who use the program.

While Blackboard is used in nearly half the schools in the country, in this area it is mostly at the post-secondary level, but local educators believe this type of program is something that could be beneficial at the middle and high school levels.

At the Deptford school district, which goes from kindergarten through 12th grade, there is an anonymous call-in system for bullying incidents, as well as suicide prevention, vandalism and any other offenses students want to report, but a texting program is one that the administration would look into.

“Especially as the kids get older you see a lot of hesitance to go out and report things,” said Matt Huminski, the district’s bullying coordinator. “To have an avenue where a student who may be afraid to be seen in the assistant principal or principal’s office, I think it’s very important.

Huminski said TipTxt is something he would look into in order to give the students one more way to report what they witness.

“I’m always trying to look out for different things that will be effective for our students,” he said. “A texting program would be a great additional step. That’s the level they are at now, they are always texting.”

A similar program is already in use at the Clearview Regional middle and high school district. An 800 number has been set up to accept text messages from students regarding bullying incidents, and while it doesn’t garner much use, the few tips it has received have helped the administration enforce its HIB (harassment, intimidation, bullying) rules.

“You never know who you’re going to help,” Clearview Superintendent John Horchak said. “Anything that has the opportunity to limit, eliminate or decrease HIB would be a benefit and we’d certainly look at it.”

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