TipTxt is a two-way texting service for students to confidentially notify school officials of bullying or school safety issues right from their cell phones.
With National Bullying Prevention Month in full swing, you have likely seen the sobering and disheartening statistics–160,000 kids miss school each day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. One in 3 students have experienced cyber-bullying. Can there be good news on the horizon? The answer is yes–if schools are ready to let students use the powerful, surprising bully-prevention tool that’s already in their pockets: text messaging.
Blackboard is partnering with the National PTA to offer TipTxt, a two-way texting service for students to confidentially notify school officials of bullying or school safety issues right from their cell phones. We are offering the tool to every K-12 school in the U.S. for free. All schools need is a dedicated phone line, and Blackboard will absorb all other costs.
Why are we doing this? Since our inception, Blackboard has worked to solve problems in education. And bullying and school safety are large problems. We hope that making this powerful service available at no charge to every school in the country will be a small step in creating safer learning environments.
According to the National Education Association, many children are reluctant to report bullying to school administrators or even their own teachers. They fear being viewed as “weak” or being labeled a “snitch.” While many school leaders have implemented programs to teach students to recognize and respond to bullying and other safety issues, students need even more help.
To make bullying prevention as effective as possible, we need to remove as many barriers to reporting as possible. Studies confirm that young people increasingly prefer to use text or SMS to communicate. According to a Pew Internet and American Life Study, 75 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 carry a cell phone, and people as young as eight text on them.
Nearly as immediate as a personal conversation, texting also has the advantage of being hidden away from prying eyes – no one knows who you’re texting. This makes some students more likely to use it to report uncomfortable – or dangerous – situations.
With TipTxt, when a student is involved in or witnesses a bullying incident, they simply text a descriptive message to the district or school’s unique TipTxt number, and the message will be confidentially relayed to administrators who can follow up in a timely manner.
Bullying prevention requires involved parents, conscientious school administrators and, maybe most importantly, empowered students. Technology can be a valuable tool in the mission to end bullying. It reminds students they are not alone – and gives them access to instant, expert help.
Bring TipTxt into your community by contacting us at Blackboard.com/tiptxtK12.
School bullies, take notice: the power has shifted.
Mark Belles is the Senior Vice President of K-12 at Blackboard