School children in Barbados now have a new channel through which they can safely report acts of bullying. It is called the Safe Zone Report It App.
The app, officially launched at the Hilton Barbados on Monday, allows individuals to anonymously relay information of these incidents to authorities.
It was created by Supreme Counselling for Personal Development (SCPD), and has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training.
Delivering the feature address at the app’s launch, Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw said she fully supports the use of technology in this manner.
She pointed out that it could help to reduce bullying, which tends to have damaging effects on the individual on the receiving end, and the wider school population.
“I recall in the last week or so when I visited a number of schools, a number of young people indicated to me that they had a preference to remain at home… and when I pushed a little further…I recognised that some of them may very well have been fearful of returning to the school plant environment, where in many cases, they’ve been exposed to bullying.
“Therefore, I believe that while we must return our students to the school plant, we have to do everything in our power to ensure the school environment is as safe as possible, and that we can give the assurances to our students that we are doing better in their interest.”
Minister Bradshaw further noted that the introduction of the app was “timely and necessary”, stating that it would aid the administrative staff at the schools across the island to better provide the appropriate intervention for affected students.
She also expressed the view that it could empower students and help to change the aspect of school culture, which frowns upon speaking out against unacceptable actions and behaviours.
Although it was created specifically for children, the Safe Zone Report It App may also be used by the general public. According to the Education Minister, this would offer additional vigilance outside of the school compound.
“If we are to save our nation’s children and reverse the disturbing trends that we were seeing before this pandemic, which are likely to manifest themselves as we return to the school environment, then we must all play our part. It is with this in mind that I embrace the introduction of this app from Supreme Counselling, which will provide us with a specific monitoring and reporting system, which students, staff, teachers and members of the general public can notify school staff of incidents occurring off the school plant, as well as inside of the school plant,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of SCPD, Sean Clarke, explained that the app would help to remove factors, which may result in issues going unreported, such as fear of victimisation and emotional distress.
“The Safe Zone Report It App anonymous feature bypasses all such hurdles, ensuring that persons report violence, delinquency, misbehaviour, self-harm or bullying without reserve. The app sends reports directly to the concerned authority at the respective schools, thus students and others need not worry about searching for the appropriate authorities themselves, or going through multiple channels to report an incident This feature saves time and prevents the person from facing the additional emotional challenges involved in meeting authority figures under such circumstances.”
He further stated that incidents reported through the application are “automatically stored as records for the reference of administrators”.
The data, he noted, was vital as it would help in the creation and implementation of strategies to combat bullying and other negative behaviours. The Safe Zone Report It App is available for free from Google Play Store and the Apple iStore.