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DOE working on app to fight bullying in schools

In an age where mobile technology has become the norm even for middle schoolers, the Department of Education is working to bring the fight against bullying to the palm of a student's hand.

Diane Abraham teaches 6th grade at Kualapuu Public Charter School on the island of Molokai. She says bullying continues to be one of the most brought up issues in schools.

"When we started the school year, we took a survey as to what was really the most prevalent thing we wanted to discuss on social justice issues and tackle as a committee, and across the board it was bullying because bullying covers everything," Abraham explains.

The Department of Education is working on an app that would allow students to anonymously report bullying incidents. Some of the features included in other similar apps allow students to anonymously report through text messages, video uploads, and photos.

Abraham says anything that cuts down on bullying adds to the learning environment.

"If kids don't feel safe in class because someone is bullying or saying mean things or doing mean mean things, then learning is not going to take place," Abraham said.

In a statement, Donalyn Dela Cruz with the Department of education said of the app, "The Department is always looking for ways to improve the safety and security of our schools. In recent months we have been looking at technology that may be beneficial in our efforts."

Cyber-security expert Chris Duque says he thinks an app could help.

"I think they might be more apt to report it and talk to a teacher. But as an investigator, if I do get a tip of bullying, eventually I need to talk to a real person," Duque said.

But Duque says an app that could provide anonymity could increase the chance of students reporting bullying.

"Also it might be it might serve as a deterrent if the other students know that there is this app available and the person that's [being bullied] can report them or somebody else to report them. So I think it may serve as a deterrent," Duque said.

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