Government

New Smartphone App Latest in Anti-Cyberbullying Measures

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: January 23, 2014 3:55 AM
Bullying

Having problems with cyberbullying and want to report it? There’s an app for that.

STOPit is a new smartphone app specially designed to offer “protection against bullying for kids and peace of mind for parents.”

The newly released app, which can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices, allows kids to upload screenshots of evidence of cyberbullying and send it to a “trusted adult,” like a parent, teacher or school counselor.

Todd Schobel was inspired to create STOPit after hearing the story of Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager who committed suicide in 2012 after she was teased and bullied by her peers.

“It took me by storm when I heard [her story]. I started crying,” said Schobel. “So I started to take a look at cyberbullying and what it was about and what could be done to help kids to stop it.”

Schobel told Sunshine State News that he didn’t see an opportunity to empower children to stop cyberbullying -- and STOPit was born.

STOPit comes in two forms: an individual app and a school app. The school version can be downloaded for free, but the individual version costs $9.99.

Using the individual app, kids have the option to send the screenshots using their name “STOPit” button or anonymously using the “FRIENDit” button, making them what the app calls “upstanders” rather than “bystanders” to cyberbullying.


Once kids send the report off, a trusted adult can then help them talk about the bullying or get further help.

Evidence that the child sent a report is not stored on the phone, which Schobel said can protect those whose phones may come into the wrong hands.

The app also offers kids the chance to interact with national organizations to voice their concerns or feelings about bullying. Victims of bullying can reach out to the crisis lines at any time during the day simply by using the “HELPit” button of the app.

The “REPORTit” button allows kids to “expose online predators by allowing easy documentation and communication with appropriate officials,” according to the app’s website.

In the STOPit school app, students are given a special access code for their school to use the app. STOPit comes preloaded with relevant contact information for school cyberbullying counselors into the app.

The school program costs $1.50 per student with a $3,000 minimum to enroll in the program. So far, the app has been introduced in several schools, but Schobel said he fully intends to expand it to schools in the Sunshine State and beyond.

“We are ready to work with any school in any part of the country now,” said Schobel.

STOPit is the latest response in the increase of anti-bullying measures across the country. Just last week, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, filed legislation in the Florida House to make bullying and cyberbullying a crime in Florida.

If passed, cyberbullying would become a third-degree felony.

When asked about HB 451, Schobel said he believed it would be a positive measure to help fight bullying.

“Anything that is going to act as a deterrent [to bullying] ... is a positive thing,” he said. “When you put some meat or some teeth into something, you’re going to get kids that are going to think twice.”

Simply brushing off bullying as the norm isn’t going to help kids, said Schobel, addressing critics of the law.

“When people talk about bullying, it’s like this acceptable ‘right of passage’ thing,” he said. “The ignorance of it is crazy.”



Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.


Comments (3)

Suzanne
10:18AM JAN 31ST 2014
Bullying can be stopped! Parents, please learn about this app and educate your children on how they can be proactive in shutting down those bullies who victimize them and those they care about. The STOPit app gives back control and options for children to manage cyber bullying!
Alexander
6:54AM JAN 24TH 2014
Excellent review! Have you contacted Heather Fitzenhagen to advise her about this powerful tool to protect our most vulnerable children. Thank you for your being part of the solution. Al Schobel
Alexander
1:48PM JAN 23RD 2014
Our most vulnerable children are now protected because they can protect themselves.

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