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Anonymous Alerts Help Curb Schoolyard Bullying

American High School Trials New Notification System For Students

Technology is evil; its apps are worse.

That’s the mantra that hundreds of American high schools were following when they oversaw the banning of mobile app YikYak in schools. Their issues with the app – which lets people anonymously share comments with those around them - were more than justified, as YikYak inadvertently lead to a schoolyard culture where students would compete to say something ‘meaner’ than the person before them. Due to overwhelming public pressure, YikYak eventually blocked its servers from being accessed by anyone within the vicinity of a school.

It seemed that pupils were destined to never enjoy online anonymity again.

But a school in America seeks to change that. Teachers at Irmo High School, South Carolina, see internet anonymity as a tool that can be harnessed for good – and they have developed their very own app to prove it. Appropriately named Anonymous Alerts, the app works with the iPads that every student in the school is given free of charge. With it, students are able to anonymously blow the whistle on things they feel need to be brought to their teachers' attention - all without the attached shame of visiting them in person.

Because this is ‘Murica we’re talking about, students have more to fear than the occasional wedgie. In an interview with the BBC, one girl described the time she looked beside her and saw a firearm in someone's schoolbag. As this was before the app's release, she was left feeling scared and confused, unsure of how to deal with the situation. With Anonymous Alerts, she would have been able to immediately and anonymously tell someone in charge what she had seen.

Dave Riegel, principal of Irmo high, told the BBC that the app gives the school the feeling of doing “everything they possibly can to try and prevent anything that could occur.” This is incredibly important - as the chilling, all-too numerous examples of American high school tragedies can confirm. Despite the occasional false report, the app makes students feel safer in their schools - and what could be more important than that?

Every day, social media becomes the sharp-toothed monster of another horror story. Any discussion about Facebook and co can easily turn into a heated debate about the dark side of social media. Anonymous apps are even worse. By their very nature, they help bullies pick on people without fear of repercussion, and even the most pleasant of anonymous discussions can quickly disintegrate into a tirade of cruelty and abuse.
With this in mind, it’s nice to see an article painting anonymity in a positive light. It can, and should, be utilised as a cheap, incredibly powerful tool for good. Anonymous Alerts has the potential to save lives, and the quicker other schools jump on board the better.

Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Anonymous Alerts Help Curb Schoolyard Bullying Reviewed by Anonymous on Sunday, September 21, 2014 Rating: 5
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