School in Albemarle County launches use of Anonymous Alerts app

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Administrators at Murray High School and the Community Public Charter School in Albemarle County have launched the use of a new app for students, parents and teachers to anonymously report troubling behavior.

In the small, tight-knit school community of approximately 150 students, seniors Samantha Peterson and Emily Thomasclarke say it can be hard to be discreet especially when reporting unhealthy activity such as, bullying, drug abuse and self-harm.

"Because it is such a tight-knit community, we do try to stress unity but it also can create drama," said Thomasclarke.

"It's hard to talk about when your best friends are doing things like that," said Petersen. "Because we're only two hallways, so it's kind of awkward if you report something."

"They know that there's illegal activity going on but they don't want to get involved and they don't have what they perceive as a safe way to get involved," said school principal, Ashby Kindler.

School administrators hope that will change with the launch of a mobile service called Anonymous Alerts.

"It allows students to report incidents of bullying," said Kindler. "It allows them to report depression, seeing a dangerous situation in the community, dangerous situations at home."

With the service, students, parents, or teachers can download the app, select a category , and submit a report anonymously.

"Once they submit their report, it will go to designated school officials," said Kindler. "We would receive those and then we'll figure out what is the appropriate action to take."

Reports can be made 24 hours a day whether an incident occurs during school or at home.

"If you have a friend who's depressed or suicidal and they say 'if you report this, we can't be friends anymore,' Anonymous Alerts might offer a way to do that," said Thomasclarke.

Kindler expressed hope that the app will serve as one more way students are encouraged to speak up and no longer be bystanders.

"This is one more venue to make it easier to be that bystander who doesn't just turn away and ignore the situation but helps solve the problem," she said.

After a six-month trial period for the app, the school will decide whether or not to continue the service based on how useful it's been.

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