Bullies, beware. For the past three years, Goleta Valley Junior High School has been using an online system that lets students report incidents of bullying that take place on campus and on social media sites.
Five hundred schools throughout 21 states use the Sprigeo.com-hosted forum to report bullying, harassment, or health concerns directed at or observed by students. When students or nonstudents wish to make a report, they can do so through the school’s website. People filing reports only need to provide information about what school they go to, where and when the incident took place, what happened, and the name of the perpetrator(s) or person(s) of concern. Reporters can give their name or remain anonymous.
At Goleta Valley Junior High, all reports go directly to Principal Veronica Rogers, who implemented the system three years ago after a yearlong trial period that earned positive feedback from students.
Rogers said she receives about 10 reports a month from students who have witnessed bullying, been a victim of bullying, or who are simply concerned for their fellow classmates. Most of these reports come from students who observed someone picking on another student or are concerned about the health of one of their peers. Once Rogers gets the information she opens an investigation, calling the student who filed the report into her office or, if the report is anonymous, calling in the student the report is about for an interview.
She attributes much of the program’s success to the fact that 11- to 14-year-olds are, in her words, “usually very honest and straightforward and want to help. … Kids are really being empowered and taking control if they see something that’s going on,” Rogers said. “We feel that our school climate has improved.”
Funding for the system comes from the junior high’s Safe School Plan, a portion of the budget Rogers reserved to ensure teachers and students have adequate training and resources to create a safe campus environment.