Wednesday, August 22 , 2018, 1:05 am | Fair 64º


Sprigeo Online Bully Reporting System Fights Back Against Abuse

Simple program provides parents, teachers and kids with a digital defense

Traveling around the country speaking to middle school students and their parents, it became apparent to Joe Bruzzese that bullying was a huge concern.

“It’s no longer the physically imposing child against the meek or the weak of the children,” said Bruzzese, author of A Parent’s Guide to the Middle School Years. “It’s all kids all the time everywhere, and it’s online and it’s through the cell phone — let’s just kind of quantify it as cyber bullying — and it’s right at school.

“About a year ago I actually got a phone call from a mom out in the middle of America and she said, ‘I found your number. My son came home yesterday with a broken tooth. Somebody hit him in the face with a full can of soda, and this bullying has been happening to him for months. He begs me not to send him to school, and I talk to the principal and I don’t know what to do. Nothing is happening.’”

That phone call — out of the blue and from a complete stranger — was the catalyst for Bruzzese to question his work and ask himself, “What I am I really doing other than just talking about strategies?”

Thus, the idea for Sprigeo was born. The Web site features a comprehensive system for reporting, tracking and documenting bullying and safety incidents. Kids, parents and schools can anonymously report bullying and safety incidents, which are then stored in a secure database and forwarded to school site administrators.

Goleta Valley Junior High began a pilot program in January and people were using it right away, Bruzzese said.

“The great news is that kids are using it and even better than that is that the principal, Veronica Rogers, sees the benefit and she is using it take action.”

Bruzzese anticipates that other area schools will begin using the program, which is currently being used at schools in Las Vegas and Clark County, Nev., as well.

“When a child walks onto a school campus if they don’t feel safe they’re not in a mindset to learn anything, which is our No. 1 goal, right?” he asked. “We want kids to actually learn something. So the idea became how could we keep kids safe, restore that safety that kids want to have when they walk to school each day or when they arrive at the school campus.

“When a child or a parent sends that report through the Sprigeo site it goes immediately into our database so we have a record of that, but it also gets forwarded on to the school site principal so they are now aware of that. They can log into the database and they can start to track how they respond to that incident over time. And that’s the real power behind it.”

Use of the site to report incidents is always free and available 24/7 from computers and a variety of mobile devices. Access to the parent toolbox section of Sprigeo, which includes a number of educational resources on dealing with bullying, is available for free for a limited time. Click here for more information.

Noozhawk contributor Leslie Dinaberg can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieDinaberg.

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