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Aubrey ISD launches online system to report bullying

Students in Aubrey ISD who experience bullying can now report incidents anonymously through a new online reporting system and phone application.

The district has partnered with CrisisGo, an online emergency management system, to build a web-based bullying report that families can access at any time from their school's webpage.

The National Center for Educational Statistics found that 1 in 5 students reported being bullied in 2016. Of that 20 percent, only 36 percent reported it to an administrator.

"A lot of conversations about school happen at night during family time or dinner time," Aubrey ISD Police Chief Scott Collins said. "Parents don't always have the time to call during the day. This is a tool they can use 24/7, 365 days a year."

To report issues, parents or students can click on "AISD Online Bully Report" on the district's homepage or download the free CrisisGo app to their phone. The application asks respondents to describe the incidents and identify anyone who may have been involved. It also classifies different types of bullying, such as online harassment, physical violence or destruction of property.

The forms can include contact information or be submitted anonymously. Once the form is submitted, it goes to Collins and campus administrators so they can investigate. 

"A lot of this is opening up the conversation with parents," Collins said. "A lot of parents don't know what's bullying and what's horseplay, what's illegal and what's not."

The district launched the program on the first day of school in late August and has received 10 online reports so far, Collins said. Parents who download the app can also get emergency alerts, including bad weather updates and school closures.

CrisisGo is offering its free bullying prevention services to schools across the country. Right now, it serves 12,000 schools in 48 states. But CrisisGo is just one method schools are using when it comes to bullying prevention.

Denton ISD parents can use Safe Schools alerts on their campus home page. Krum ISD set up its own Google Form parents can fill out. Pilot Point ISD has a bullying hotline set up for each campus.

The expansion of reporting methods coincides with a tightening of state bullying laws. 

Senate Bill 179, known as "David's Law," went into effect Sept. 1. Under the law, school administrators can now investigate and take action on cyberbullying that occurs off campus if it interferes with a student's performance in the classroom. 

The law defines cyberbullying as "bullying arising from a pattern of acts or one significant act that is done through the use of any electronic communication device." Previously, administrators could address the issue only if it occurred on campus or on school property, such as a school bus.

"It doesn't matter which school you go to in America. Bullying is an issue," Collins said. "The laws changed this year, and we want to be proactive and have tools that will be useful for families. We can't be everywhere at once."

To learn more about the CrisisGo program, go to www.aubreyisd.net or contact Collins at scollins@aubreyisd.net.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.