bullying

TCDSB to roll out new app for students to combat bullying

March 1 roll-out includes 30 secondary schools

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is releasing a new app in March for students to report bullying and other incidents.

Anonymous Alerts is an app that allows students to report incidents or threats anonymously to school administration. According to its website, the app initiates “1-way or anonymous 2-way communications” between students and administrators or guidance councillors.

The school board had contracted Anonymous Alerts to create the application tailored for them, which will available for iPhones and Androids, along with a web version.

Nadia Adgrada, principal of TCDSB’s Safe School, says that the program aims to promote “positive, inclusive school climate” for students.

“There might be that situation where a student says, ‘Even though I know that there are caring adults in the building, I just do not want to be seen’,” she said.

“That is where the anonymous reporting app comes in.”

According to the Safe Schools report for 2015–2016 published by the board, 18 per cent of secondary students say that they have been bullied once to three times in a school year. Among the 18 per cent, only 27 per cent of students report the bullying to school staff.

TCDSB held a two-month pilot project with three secondary schools. Principals had focus groups test the app to see how students would report incidents. Students filed five complaints during the pilot.

The March 1 roll-out includes 30 TCDSB secondary schools. If it is successful, the board will expand the app to its 167 elementary schools, Adragna says.

“We are a 21st-century board, we are looking for 21st-century tools to connect with young people,” she said. “We just wanted to offer another tool for students to communicate with us.”