Add Us On:


3 New Anti-Bullying Tools to Dissolve the Wall Between the Bullied and Bystanders

Full_hero_image

Photo: (Getty Images)

If you are one of the millions of American teens that are bullied every year, it can sometimes feel like you’re never safe.  Bullying happens at school, at home, on the street and even online, leaving you feeling hopelessly trapped in what feels like a never-ending onslaught of abuse.  Just as tragic as the acts themselves, those experiencing bullying are often forced to suffer in silence, fearing retribution from bullies or, worse yet, flat out dismissal from adults they trust if they report the abuse.

In the face of this pervasive problem, a new crop of high tech anti-bullying resources have emerged to help the victims and bystanders take action and address bullying when and where it happens in their communities.

The insults people hurl online can be just as hurtful as the ones slung in real life.  Words Hurt, the Facebook app from Timothy Mullican, gets that and is out to stop cyberbullying by automatically detecting it within Facebook posts.  The app accesses your Facebook news feed and wall to scan for strings of words commonly used in cyber attacks like “school”, “hate”, “kill” and “stupid”.  The app also houses a directory of cyberbullying resources from ReachOut.com.  

Words Hurt appears to still be in beta, but should it expand the search terms to be more representative of how people actually talk (and insult), we’d have a really cool and useful tool in the fight against cyberbullying.

How many of us have seen bullying go down and been reluctant to get involved because of the blowback?  Well, Stop Bullies is an iPhone app from Appdiction Studios that helps bystanders anonymously report bullying of all types, teen dating violence, LBGT bullying on campus.  Students can download Stop Bullies for free, capture hazing and harassment in photos, on video or email and anonymously report it to school administrators.  The app also includes an impressive roster of anti-bullying prevention and intervention tips for parents and teachers from Stopbullying.gov.

Stop Bullies has the potential to do more than just build awareness about bullying in schools or catch people in the act.  The app engages young people on their main communication conduit - their cell phone- and breaks down the invisible wall between victims and bystanders, enabling them to take a stand.  Stop Bullies is the first step in making stand against bullies as natural and contagious as snapping a picture with Instagram - for the students at schools that allow cell phone use on campus.

In 2005, Emily May had enough of sketchy comments and catcalls from passersby and decided to start a movement to end street harassment called Hollaback!  A network of leaders around the country, an iPhone app and an army of Hollabackers on Facebook power the movement.  

The free Hollaback! iPhone app allows people to tag crude comments, flashing, groping and assault then track it on a GPS HollaMap on iHollaback.org.  The thriving Hollaback! Facebook with over 20,000 “Hollabackers” illustrates how many people are completely fed up with bullying in the form of street harassment and sheds light on the problem through pictures and personal accounts of people standing up.

The Hollaback movement isn’t just for feminists - it’s for everyone that has encountered, witnessed or known someone that has been harassed on the street because of what they were wearing, their gender, race or sexual preference. It clearly identifies bad behavior we may have let slide in the past and gives a sturdy roadmap to responding to and diffusing it.

So there we have it.  A handful of tech tools that can help change the way our culture responds to bullying.  One important thing to always keep in mind when using these tools is that we shouldn’t become reliant on technology and awareness campaigns to stop bullying in its various forms.  The critical component to ending bullying is you.

Margaret Lucas is a member of the A THIN LINE street team.

ALL POSTS

Chatter