With bullying and cyber bullying on the rise, districts and schools are looking to step-up their anti-bully efforts with student-centered programs.
McLean County Unit 5 District in Normal, Ill., is one such district. The 13,314-student district is piloting the CyberBully Hotline from SchoolReach in six of its schools, including four junior and two senior high schools. The solution will provide schools and its students a two-way communications tool that allows students to send text messages -- or leave a voicemail -- anonymously with school officials. In response, those officials can immediately reply, also anonymously, and provide students the support they need to effectively address the offensive bullying act, whether they are witnessing it, or on the receiving end of it.
“We are dedicated to keeping our students safe whether they are at school or not,” said Nancy Braun, behavior interventionist and external coach for Unit 5. “We currently have a number of effective bully prevention programs in our schools including the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system that encourages the “expect respect” philosophy, but it was important to us to add one more layer – one that empowers students to successfully report bully behavior and one that will give our administrators a better understanding of when bully behavior is happening. Is it on the buses to and from school, or during lunchtime, or perhaps at school sporting events? With the addition of the CyberBully Hotline, we have a comprehensive solution that can help us not only reduce tensions but find the patterns and quell them.”
Schools and districts that purchase the program receive an exclusive telephone number that accepts both text messages and voice calls anonymously. In addition each school receives anti-bullying posters that not only create awareness of the school’s own unique telephone number, but also reinforce the “Bullying is Wrong” message.