Cyberbullying | News

Missouri Middle School Shoves Back on Bullying with Hotline

A Missouri school district that began using a hotline to allow students to report bullying reported a 92 percent drop in student discipline cases. Black Hawk Middle School, part of the Warren County R-3 school district in Warrenton, began using SchoolReach's CyberBully Hotline at the beginning of the most recent school year. Whereas the school disciplined about 60 students last year for fighting, in the current year that has dropped to five students.

"It wasn't chaos, but it was a wake-up call that we needed to do something," said Associate Principal Shawn Kelsc. Some fights were "horseplay taken to an extreme level." Others were "incidents that were of a harassment or bullying nature."

The new hotline provides a unique number that students or parents can text or call to make anonymous reports about incidents of bullying, fighting, or other concerns. The application sends a report to school administrators as they're received and provides a mechanism for two-way, real time communication — anonymously — between school administrators and the reporting party.

Kelsch noted that the service provides students with a simple way to inform their school about potential problems. "Kids will tell us, 'We heard these kids arguing, and they might be ready to fight,'" he said. "I feel like this allows us to intervene before things escalate to a critical level."

He believes use of the hotline has averted some incidents. "When something big does happen, it's often the first way we get information about it," he said.

Kelsch noted that the service is also receiving reports on school bus bullying, substance possession, and weapons.

According to Assistant Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith, the program has been integrated with the district's character education and safety efforts. "We have a [positive behavior intervention supports] program, a character camp for middle school students, and we work closely with our school resource officer to nip things in the bud," he said. "With the CyberBully Hotline, we're being proactive instead of reactive in addressing problems."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.