Program could curb bullying

Published 11:02 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
Looking to stop violence or bullying before it becomes a problem, Brewton City Schools on Monday approved the purchase of a new anonymous message service for middle and high school students.
The message service - called &#8220Talk About It” - is an online program that allows students to report potential threats or bullying anonymously.
Superintendent Lynn Smith said the school system hopes students who are afraid to report such behavior will be able to do so if they are protected by anonymity.
The program, developed by Oxford, Miss.-based AnComm, was used in several Mississippi schools last year, but Brewton schools would be among the first in Alabama to use it.
According to the company's Web site, the program works as a message center. Each student would receive a user ID and could communicate using online messages. In addition to providing an opportunity innocuous messages and calendar information, the program allows students to send anonymous messages to selected faculty members.
School board member Lillie Dove said she thinks the program is important.
School board president Stephanie Walker said that, often, students keep information to themselves or only talk among themselves.
The program will cost $3,000 for installation and training for both Brewton Middle School and T.R. Miller High School, Smith said.
Mississippi school officials familiar with the program said in a press release that students at the 19 middle and high schools that used the program reported more than 3,000 incidents to school officials ranging from bullying and threats of violence to cheating, drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, problems with teachers, depression/stress, abuse at home, cutting or self-mutilation, sexual harassment and date rape.

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