Security & Safety | News
Maryland District Adopts New Tip Text Conversation Service
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A Maryland school district has voted to implement a $9,995 tip text service for a year after testing a 60-day pilot program in two high schools that generated three reports of students contemplating suicide and two reports of students passing nude pictures of other students on Instagram, as well as five bullying reports, three reports of students smoking e-cigarettes, and one report of a student dealing drugs. In a December 2013 board of commissioners meeting, Queen Anne's County Public Schools decided to adopt Text-a-Tip 4 Schools from Text2Them.
The district-branded "Text 2 Stop it!" was tested in Queen Anne's County High School and Kent Island High School and will now be deployed to other schools.
"Mobile phones and texting are very comfortable ways for our students to communicate," said Superintendent Carol Williamson. "We have been looking for a way that students would be able to communicate concerns to their school administrators. Our highest priority is the safety of our children."
When students text a message to a school-specific text keyword, the service opens a text conversation, querying the student, who can remain anonymous, for details about what happened, location, dates, times and names of victims, perpetrators and witnesses. If the student has pictures or a video of the incident, those can be transferred from their cell phones to Text2Them.
The information from that conversation is forwarded via email to pre-designated school administrators, such as the principal and counselors. In life-threatening situations, those same recipients are texted along with the email.
"Text 2 Stop it! works because kids prefer texting to all other forms of communication," said Alvin Butler, president of the company and creator of the tip texting service. The addition of the conversation with the texter differentiates this offering from similar ones, Butler added in a video about the district adoption.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.