Technology Allowing Students to Report Bullying

BOSTON — Bullying has bothered students for generations, but  a new device might help document and reduce it.

Boston-based education company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) recently launched a digital program that, on multiple platforms, will allow students to anonymously report concerns or incidents of bullying.

The reporting platform helps school districts and local government agencies manage each case consistently and fairly by using a sophisticated analytics and reporting engine, according to HMH.

“When children feel safe, it has an overwhelmingly positive effect on their learning environment,” said Sean Burke, president of the School Safety Advisory Council. “This tool is unique in that it gives students peace of mind in knowing their concerns will be kept confidential, while providing the school district with the ability to track each report. It creates a certain level of accountability, ensuring that cases of bullying and other related incidents will not fall through the cracks.”

Student bullying has grown in recent years, according to national statistics.  One in every four students is currently being bullied, and every seven minutes a child is bullied on a playground. In addition, 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied. The new device is intended to make it easier for students to report incidents.

“HMH is focused on empowering students to learn, which includes a responsibility to work toward building safer school environments for all students,” said Linda Zecher, president and CEO of HMH. “This particular platform provides districts the ability to report, track, manage and analyze a variety of incidents including bullying, and we are excited to bring this solution to districts across the county.”

Victims of bullying often do not step forward because they fear punishment for reporting the incident. Now, however, victims, educators and parents will be able to anonymously report incidents through the school district’s website, text messaging or a call center. The company is also developing a mobile application for phones and tablets to be used as another reporting vehicle.

Each case is documented in a central repository that helps administrators review, investigate and resolve reported concerns in a consistent and transparent manner, according to the company.

Each step is documented and alerts notify authorities if a case goes astray at any point.

The districts can track data and review district-wide reports, school-level reports and reports from individual schools. They can then cross-analyze the information to locate problem areas.

To prevent false claims, managers would have to cross-check reports with other investigations and data.