UVA student creates app for students to anonymously report incidents on campuses
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- As many parents increasingly worry about their child's safety when sending them off to school, a University of Virginia first-year student wants to help.
"The fact that I’m creating the app is very upsetting," said Alexander Halpern.
He said in middle and high school, the increase in active shooter drills made him wonder what resources were there for students in the event of a shooting.
"They're the ones experiencing the issues themselves, and they need to be able to freely express what issues they're facing to administration and security," he said.
In June 2022, the aspiring computer science major started creating Safeline, an anonymous reporting app.
"If a student notices that a friend's having a mental health issue, but they don't really want to report it because their name is attached, that might be a concern. So, allowing anonymous reporting allows them to feel free to do what's best in order to ensure the safety of the school," Halpern said.
Students can report vandalism, substance use, mental distress and, the worst situation, an active shooter. Then it happened to him.
On the night of Nov. 13, 2022, Halpern was in his dorm when there was a shooting on Grounds. He gathered around the police scanner with his roommates, hoping for any shred of information.
He made a function where administrators can choose to show verified active incidents on the app and communicate updates.
"The shooting was a shock because I had been working on the platform for so long and I hadn't really expected for an active shooter event to happen at my school," he said.
Now Halpern wants to expand Safeline. It's going into a high school in his home state of Connecticut and a school in Richmond this spring.
"The app is something that can be useful to students and can help provide value to schools. And maybe the issue in the future can be resolved and an app like this won't have to exist," he said.
Halpern said to go to www.yoursafeline.com to learn about bringing the app to your school.