An App To Stop Cyberbullying

Jul 13, 2015
Originally published on July 13, 2015 7:30 pm
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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to an app designed to stop cyber-bullying. It's called STOPit. Todd Schobel created the app. He was inspired when he heard the story of a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Todd. She was harassed online and off for about two years. In September of 2012, she posted a YouTube video about that abuse, and a month later, she killed herself. Her video went viral.

TODD SCHOBEL: I heard that story, and immediately, I pictured a child in a corner of a room just saying, I want it to stop; I want it to stop.

SIEGEL: So Schobel created an app that allows students to report bullying anonymously.

SCHOBEL: They know what's going on in these digital worlds well before adults do. So you give them a tool, within seconds, they can be an up-stander and not be a bystander. And that's how STOPit was born.

SIEGEL: Here's how it works. Schools buy STOPit, and the app is made available to every student for free. Kids can use it to alert the school when they see something.

SCHOBEL: So you can just type a message - you know, Jimmy is bringing a gun to school tomorrow - done. You can take a screenshot of anything you see on any electronic device and send that in as evidence.

SIEGEL: One of the schools using STOPit is David Brearley Middle and High School in Kenilworth, N.J.

BRIAN LUCIANI: We get numerous things online sent to us, whether it's a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, Yik Yak, anything of that nature.

SIEGEL: That's Principal Brian Luciani. He says kids with smart phones can have a hard time getting away from bullies.

LUCIANI: In the past, when kids had issues in school, even on the way to or from school, there was a breakdown period of maybe 10 to 12 hours where you could kind of be left alone. Now it is 24 hours, seven days a week. It is constant bombardment.

SIEGEL: Luciani says the STOPit app makes students accountable. They're uploading screenshots when they see bullying on social media.

LUCIANI: When I meet with a parent and I show them what their kids are doing, there's no more number argument about this is what he meant, this is what he didn't mean because you simply read it. And the simple question I always ask is, how would you take this, and what good comes of this comment?

SIEGEL: Luciani says STOPit has helped reduce the number of bullying incidents in his school. And the app's creator, Todd Schobel, says more than 100 schools have now signed up. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.