The newly implemented system, said e2Campus
in a press release, tackles bullying by combining two important elements in the psyche of bullying, peer pressure and technology.
Recognized as crucial proponents in bullying, e2campus' uTip, suggests their new system obliterates the snitching syndrome by allowing students to submit incidents via an anonymous SMS text message.
When bolstered by promotional materials such as 'Bullies Beware' posters pasted throughout the school e2Campus said, bullies are firmly placed in the spotlight. They must now worry about peer reporting as well, because uTip opens up the process to every child with a cell phone. The company is so confident in its new system, they guarantee that it will work. And interested schools can use the system for one year, free of charge, if they sign up by August 31, 2012.
Ara Bagdasarian, CEO of e2Campus said:
"We're so certain this new solution will reduce bullying and crime at your school that we guarantee it. Success is not only measured by the number of tips the school receives, but also by the reduction in bullying incidents.
"When a school displays the eye-catching uTip posters in high vulnerability areas, it acts as a constant reminder to would-be bullies that hundreds of eyes are watching, and any one of them could be an anonymous tipster – even their friend. We feel this combination of technology with psychology will make a revolutionary new difference to stop bullying."
News of the system's release followed an announcement yesterday
that District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray is implementing a citywide plan for bullying prevention tied to the new documentary Bully
. The movie, which was recently downgraded from an R to a PG-13 rating for child accessibility, follows five kids over the course of a school year and examines the bullying epidemic sweeping the nation.
Bullying in schools – once accepted as a right of passage, has through societal changes and advances in technology, developed into a multifaceted problem that has grown exponentially. For many years, it has left anti-bullying programs in the dust, scrambling just to keep up.
So will uTip help?
One of the greatest fears a student must overcome when reporting a bullying incident is the fear of reprisal. In 2010, I interviewed the parent of a teenage girl
who was terrorized for reporting a weapon violation. The weapon had been brought to school for for use in a planned fight. What evolved for the teen, is the typical tale of retribution many teens who 'do the right thing,' face.
In short, asking kids to stand up to bullying is an amazing leap of faith many adults would refuse to take. Jessica's story is a testament to this. For weeks, Jessica had to be escorted to and from school for her own protection. Teens threatened to visit her home, and in one instance, Jessica was told if she valued her life, she should pretend to be sick and have her mom pick her up.
The teen's mom said the situation at one point was so out of control, that parents of her daughter's friends even called the school and told officials that they did not want their children 'hanging out' with Jessica. Fears that reprisals would bleed over to her friends, severed the teen's last supporting avenue. Jessica dealt with the recriminations at school, alone.
For months, her brave actions cost the teen dearly. Alienated and forced to make compromises to ensure her safety, most would query why the teen even reported the incident. For Jessica, the answer was simple:
"I knew if anything happened to my friends and I hadn’t said anything, I’d never forgive myself."
Jessica displayed commendable courage, but she paid a price. A price that could have been averted with the new uTip system.
Technological advances have ensured that even when at home, kids are not safe from the tenacious tentacles of bullying. Social media platforms such as Facebook, have extended the role of bullying outside of the school setting. In short, children can be bullied 24/7, and schools are failing to adequately contain the issue. This often leads to frustration by parents who feel that school authorities have neither the answer nor the substance to address the issue efficiently.
In Sep. 2010, father James Jones reached breaking point when he confronted his disabled daughter's bullies on the school bus
. They had tormented his 11-year-old daughter who suffers with cystic fibrosis, since her first day of school. Jones stormed onto the bus and confronted them with a tirade laced with swear words and absolute anger. Jones was eventually charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing a school function.
Rather than condemning his actions, ticked off parents rallied around Jones, generally supporting his shared frustrations over failing school policies on bullying. Although schools actively work on stamping out bullying, the tools are antiquated and there is an unprotected abyss that kids must cross, often overlooked by current solutions. e2Campus' new Bully Deterrent System, could finally bridge that chasm.
Not only does it grant anonymity to teens like Jessica, who wish to do the right thing but fear the consequences, it places the bully's themselves on alert. More importantly, it involves the people who should have been part of the anti-bullying solution a long time ago, the kids themselves. By employing text messaging technology in its delivery, the system also incorporates a popular activity deeply ingrained in modern youth society.
How u-Tip works is simple, said Bully Buster.com
. When a student sees a bullying incident, he can report it with a uTip keyword. The message is then routed across multiple device platforms to selective staff members within the school who can immediately act upon the tip.
The system isn't perfect or all encompassing of course, (the anonymity aspect for example, could foster errant reporting and the resolution of incidents requires student participation), but as an immediate preventative and intervention tool, it could prove unparalleled. Furthermore, parents can also choose to get involved by submitting tips via the school's website or to an email address.
In short, the simplicity of the Bully Buster system, appears on paper, to far outweigh any minor flaws. To be fair, the system isn't designed to offer a comprehensive solution to bullying, but to take advantage of current technology and teen psychology. Considering a 2010 study by Pew Research Center
revealed some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones, uTip – The Bully Buster, is the most promising solution introduced yet.