MIDWEST CITY — The Internet has long been a place where bullying is discussed, and leaders in the Midwest City-Del City School District are hoping to make it part of the solution.
The school district has entered into a five-year agreement with sprigeo.com, a website that allows students and teachers to report bullying anonymously. All 26 schools in the Mid-Del system will have access to the website.
Sprigeo gets its name from sprig, a part of a tree, and geo, meaning worldwide. The $25,000 subscription was paid for with leftover federal grant money, Mid-Del Schools spokeswoman Kathy Dunn said.
“Sometimes those who are bullied are afraid to report it because they're afraid it may lead to more bullying,” Dunn said. “We thought it was important for students and their parents to have the ability to do it anonymously, with the hope that it will encourage more people to report bullying.”
The reports are sent via email to the school administrator where the bullying occurred. Dunn said the district will then follow up with an investigation. Administrators and teachers are receiving training on how to use the website, and parents and students are being made aware of it as the school year gets under way.
Sprigeo spokesman Aljosha Novakovic said sprigeo.com is being used in about 500 schools in 21 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“For a lot of kids, just the act of speaking out can be the scariest part,” Novakovic said. “If you think back to being a kid, going to the principal's office was always a little intimidating. When they can do that at their computers, it doesn't seem so scary.”
Novakovic said the website also can be used by teachers to report internal bullying issues among faculty and administration, but he said the majority of reports generated deal with student-on-student bullying.
Dunn said the website is another way to keep students in the district safe. She said bullying at Mid-Del School isn't necessarily worse than in other districts its size, but it is something officials are concerned about. A fight between two Midwest City High School students in December made local news after video of the incident was posted online.
“We've been charged with the safety of our students, and any time they are in conflict with one another, it's our responsibility to intercept and to intervene so that we can continue to have the best learning environment possible,” Dunn said.