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Promoting Social Good: Spotlight on Anti-Bullying Apps

July 31st, 2012. Filed under Social Good

Bullying and cyber bullying have been in the national spotlight a lot lately, thanks to the media attention following the documentary Bully, as well as the now famous case of the middle school boys taunting their school bus monitor, with their verbal assaults captured on video for the world to see.

Within the United States and throughout the world, bullying is a serious social issue, and it’s up to all of us to help stop it and to stand up in support of victims, especially since bullying is not limited to school hallways and smartphones alone. The modern day workplace is often home to bullying, as well, usually from a supervisor or other co-worker. Since more kids are starting to demonstrate bullying behavior at a young age, there are steps we all can take to prevent the schoolyard bullies from becoming bullying adults.

Several applications related to bullying have debuted recently. One advantage of an anti-bullying app is that it can encourage a uniform response among the individual schools and school districts that usually have to create and enforce their own bullying policies and procedures. Response time is shorter and the process is easier when using a phone app.

Thanks to the revolutionary activity of a few young people who want to stand up for themselves and their peers, standing by and watching helplessly is no longer an option. In many cases, teenagers are developing the programs that run these apps, and they’re carrying out the design, marketing, and publicity.

Here are some new anti-bullying apps worth checking out.

The Back Off Bully app was developed by high school students at Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven, Conn. Nicknamed “BOB,” the app lets anyone use his or her cell phone to anonymously report a bullying incident directly to a school administrator. The user has three options: report an incident, request a consultation with a school counselor, or learn more about bullying in general. The app won several awards at this year’s CT Student Innovation Expo. The web application can be accessed with any computer, tablet, or smart phone.

Undoubtedly responding to concerns expressed by parents, teachers, and victims themselves, other school districts have followed in the footsteps of the New Haven students. Tim Porter, a Houston app developer, created Stop Bullies for students in his area.

According to this article, Judson Independent School District near San Antonio, Texas collaborated with a mobile company to create a unique app for its residents.

Across the U.S., anti-bullying advocates have convinced school districts and local governments that funding for such initiatives is both worthwhile and necessary. In Canada, British Columbia has introduced a smart phone app for reporting bullying. In addition to the downloaded apps, many school districts also offer web-based software packages, such as Bully Reporter.

Even Facebook has taken a position against cyber bullying. Anyone can go to this page to report abuse.

So far, some people’s number one concern about anti-bullying apps is how to deal with the potential for false reports. These types of solutions always carry a small risk of fraud, but overall, isn’t reducing the number of bullying incidents worth it?

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