Children spend a significant amount of time on their cell phones. Now, they can use them to call for help off or on the school campus.
Stop It is an anti-bullying and mental wellness app for students to use and right now 43 school districts in North Dakota are enrolled in the Stop It app platform.
This means about 24,000 students have the ability to use the app, according to Melissa Spelchen, the healthy youth community and social services specialist of the Central Regional Education Association.
“Not everyone reports incidents and so what this app does is it gives those students who may not use the open door policy an opportunity to report things,” she said.
That is exactly what has happened as over 400 incidents have been logged so far.
Kenmare School District is one of those that has benefited from the app, according to Superintendent Alex Hennix.
“It’s not very often which also lets me know that it’s being used properly because it’s not being abused so I would say out of two years I have probably had maybe 10 reports,” said Hennix.
Hennix said those reports were critical and life-saving.
“They just did the anonymous thing and I’ve gotten ‘em in the middle of the night, I’ve gotten ‘em in the middle of summer. So I would say it’s been very impactful that way because then I am allowed to call their parents or whoever it is if there’s an emergency,” she added.
Spelchen said the app is an important well-being tool for students and an additional mechanism for school authorities to keep kids safe.
“We can’t help those kids. We can’t help that struggling student if we don’t know that they are struggling and so that’s the opportunity that this provides and gives educators the ability or one caring adult the opportunity to help that kid in crisis.”
All students with access to a smartphone or computer can use Stop It but the app is targeted at fifth graders and above.
They can either reach out for help for themselves or when another student is in crisis.
Stop It app was founded in 2014 but in 2020, CREA partnered with the app developers to bring it to North Dakota.
Students can also get help via the app’s crisis text line which is also available 24/7 even after school hours. They can also have access to mental wellness tools such as behavioral threat assessment and suicide risk assessment by certified mental health counselors.