A new tool to combat bullying is coming to some Fresno County schools. TipNow is an application for smart phones. It allows students to send anonymous information to their school. Eight school districts in Fresno County will be the first in the country using this brand new tool. School leaders hope the anonymity of the app encourages students to speak up if they feel uncomfortable.
Cell phones in schools used to be considered a distraction. Now, they could be used to help combat one of the biggest problems students face: bullying.
“It is becoming a bigger issue for us and it's something we want to contain,” said Craig Bowden, Superintendent and Principal of Washington Colony School.
Bowden is excited to test out a new smart phone app that allows students, parents, or residents to send anonymous messages.
“If they see anything suspicious, they can be using the app to send information to the security of the school administration,” said Cyril Rayan, President and CEO of Resiligence, the company that makes TipNow.
36 Fresno County schools participating in the pilot program get the basic service free this school year. The Superintendent of Fresno County schools, Larry Powell, hopes it'll help protect students’ safety on campus.
“It's a wonderful opportunity for us to step into the digital age and schools to help reduce bulling, drug sales, theft, campus, and vandalism,” said Powell.
One Fresno student thinks the app is a good idea. especially because tips are anonymous.
“No one wants us to know it's them, so if it's anonymous, people would speak up more,” said Karen Quehuie, a student at Hoover High School.
One major criticism is whether all students have access to iPhone and Android smart phones, especially in rural districts. But administrators think it's worth a shot.
“I'll feel very successful if we have one child report an issue and we're able to do something ahead of time,” said Bowden
Schools say the operating systems should be up and running in about three weeks.
The districts using the service are: