New texting tool to help students report bullying

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GRAYSON CO, TX-Students nationwide now have a new tool to fight bullying. A program just released by an education technology company allows them to report bullying incidents anonymously.

The Department of Education said about a third of school children nationwide are bullied every year. That was the motivation for a company called Blackboard Connect to create the TipTxt service. It allows students to use their cell phones to report bullying and one Texoma school considers adopting the program.

High school freshman, Lorenzo Alejandro, said he sees it all the time.

"There are kids that are always getting picked on, pushed around, calling names," he said.

Alejandro, who uses his cellphone for everything, said a service like TipTxt would help students report bullying without being identified.

"It'd be a smart idea. It would be easier for kids to tell teachers and easier to tell on the kids that are bullying people," he said.

TipTxt, developed by Blackboard Connect, allows students to notify school officials about bullying through text messages while staying anonymous. School officials would receive those messages in real time and be able to keep those texts for documentation.

Denison Superintendent Dr. Henry Scott said they don't tolerate bullying and TipTxt would help them combat the problem.

"I think it's an excellent idea. Anyway we can get information that would help us investigate and determine what's going on with our students, anything that would help in that effort is positive," he said.

Grayson County Child Advocacy Center's Kelley Eidt said students might be intimidated about telling teachers if they've witnessed bullying or even fear retaliation, but TipTxt could help eliminate that.

"There's a lot of fear involved with youth coming forward and admitting to being a victim or even a bystander . I'd hope that this would encourage more kids to come forward.. I don't know if that would immediately reduce the number of instances, but if we can reduce the reporting that might discourage the perpetrators," she said.

Alejandro said the program's worth a try.

"It's not gonna cut out the problem I don't think much, but it might help a little bit," he said.

School districts can sign up for the TipTxt service for free, but will have to pay $125 a year for a dedicated TipTxt line. Public and private schools, along with universities, are eligible to apply for the service online.