New App, "The Guardian" to help Students Report Bullying Anonymously

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SOUTH AFRICA

A 21st-century approach to curb the increasing rates of bullying and suicide among school pupils has been developed in the form of a tech-savvy application.

The Guardian app is a new way for children to report bullying and abuse directly from their mobile phones.

Realising crime against children was rife, the Guardian was formed by former detective Marc Hardwick in 2009.

The organisation focuses on private investigations of crime that affect children.

As many school-related crimes were going unreported due to fear of victimisation, Hardwick developed the Guardian app last year in order to break the ‘no tell’ culture in schools and offer pupils an anonymous channel to report abuse by their peers or their teachers.

“The app is still kicking off in KZN but it was welcomed by many schools and the education department in Western Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

“It works that school officials agree to register their facility on the system and they choose three ambassadors who will receive and investigate the reports from children in their school.

“Pupils just have to download the app using their own phone or one that belongs to a family member.

“They can choose an issue affecting them, which can be anything from bullying, sexual assault, depression or racism and many more.

“They have an option to attach a video or photo and then send it off as an anonymous report to the ambassadors who will then investigate.

“Ambassadors have the option to investigate the case themselves, assign it to someone else in the school or reply to the report to ask for more information.

“If it in an extreme case of sexual assault or suicide, then we get involved,” said Hardwick.

Pupils whose schools are not registered on the system may still report cases of abuse, where members of the Guardian will send the report to the school and approach them for registration.

In a little less than a year 6.55 percent of more than 1 200 000 school pupils in South Africa, make use of the app.

Reports from the system show that bullying, alcohol abuse and unacceptable behaviour from school staff were at the top of the list of complaints from school pupils.

The application would cost a school a subscription fee of R500 a month. It is free of charge for pupils and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store of the Apple Store.

Culled from The North Coast Courier

Florence Williams