Norwalk schools deploy app to fight bullying

Posted: Updated:

Public schools in Norwalk have launched a smartphone app to report abusive behavior and give students and parents more peace of mind.

As its name suggests, the Anonymous Alerts app lets students anonymously report a range of incidents spanning bullying, drugs, alcohol or depression -- anything that would warrant immediate attention.

"Student safety obviously is the highest priority for us, and this mobile app will allow us to really empower students," says Joe Rios, a district official.

Officials say that about 70 percent of children are reluctant to report an incident unless they can remain anonymous -- while 88 percent of teens on social media report having witnessed other people being mean.

Parents like Linda Ross say it's a tool they could have used when they were growing up themselves.

But Ryan Ventura, a student, says he would use it to report "suspicious activity" but not bullying.

"I think there are better resources for that," he says. "Particularly, faculty at my school."

The district says it still encourages students to contact teachers, staff members or counselors with any issues.

And the app does include an option to report incidents without maintaining anonymity, if the user so chooses. It's available for middle and high school students in Norwalk's public schools. 

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