Unfortunately today, school violence has become the new “normal” in schools across the country. Children today are exposed to more information than any generation ever was. Social media has created a platform for bullies to target victims at school and home, while access to a smartphone gives children the ability to read and see violent behaviors on video like school shootings and suicide "how-to's".
Recently, State officials decided to create a solution and take action against self-harm and school violence. According to the manager of the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security, “when people are contemplating especially adolescents and young adults when they’re contemplating something horrible, horrific or big there’s something called leakage, they tell the people around them”, Brian Armes, manager. The “leakage” young children and adults experience is what inspired the state of Idaho to develop a smartphone app with tipline like features.
In accordance with the “Stop School Violence Act” the project recently received a grant from the Department of Justice just this week. While the app itself has not yet been developed, the concept is created and inspiration is being drawn from crisis-related apps in states like Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon. The app will have the ability for a student to send an anonymous report or concern relating to but not limited to self-harm, school violence, or threats of any source. The reports can be sent from any mobile device at any time, “no matter where they are whatever time they can go and open up an app, immediately say I have a concern”, says Armes.
Earlier this week, Columbine High Schools former principle, the man who survived one of the biggest mass shooting in U.S history came to Boise for a speaking engagement. He encourages parents or their guardians to teach, “if you hear something say something if you see something say something we need to empower our kids to come forward to protect all of us”.
While speaking up sounds simple, many students struggle with the responsibility to report suspicious behaviors or activities for they fear their peers will label them a “snitch”. Brian Armes from the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security puts the “big picture” into perspective, “this doesn’t make you a snitch, do you care about your friends? Would you like your friends to be here tomorrow?”.
The app is set to launch in January 2019.