New phone app to help combat bullying and abuse in schools

Former Child Protection Unit Officer and director of The Guardian Group, a child abuse investigation company, Marc Hardwick, has launched a ground-breaking application  that will help combat bullying and child abuse in schools.

The app, which is not only a first for South Africa but also a world first, is unique in its approach as it is designed specifically to serve as a tool where students can anonymously report any of the many challenges, big or small, facing children today, including physical abuse, bullying and sexual assault.

There is a monthly fee of about R500 for schools who sign up for the app that will be available for students to download for free from the Apple App or Google Play sites. Once the students have access to the app, they will be able to report on any danger experienced personally or witnessed around the school.

“Member schools appoint a staff ‘ambassador’ for the app. A team of staff members called investigators then supports the ambassador. When a report is submitted, it will arrive as an email to the predefined staff members informing them to login into the system to access the details of the report and take the necessary action to safeguard the child. The staff member has the ability to request further information from the reporter but will never know their identity. This is extremely important to us, as the power of this app is ensuring the anonymity of the reporter,” said Hardwick.

The school can conduct an internal an internal investigation on the reports submitted through the app, but if they feel the need for an external forensic investigation for the more extreme cases such as rape or sexual abuse, they have the liberty of approaching investigators from The Guardian or the police.

Hardwick also noted that a very important feature built into the app is one that will allow schools to send out push notifications regarding school news and sports fixtures.

“We encourage schools to send out messages on the app at least every two weeks, as this then means that learners will need the app on their phone. This is important because in a case of bullying for example if the bully checked the reporter’s phone and found that the anonymous reporting app was on the phone, the bully would know who made the report. However, if every learner has the app to receive the push notifications this further protects the anonymity of the reporter.”

A visual explanation of The Guardian App can be found here:

Are you aware of other ways in which technology is being used to combat issues in schools? Let us know on our Facebook page Roodepoort Northsider.

  AUTHOR
Randburg Sun

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