The Leeds School System is using technology to take a stand against bullying.
Beginning this week, one of the district’s cellular phones will serve as an anonymous tip line for students to call in and report any suspicious activity.
The program, which costs the district $10 per month, was based off of a similar south Alabama program which had been successful.
“We’re very committed to having a bully-free school, because a tremendous amount of research says it really affects the learning environment,” Superintendent John Moore said. “What we hope, of course, is that our kids feel comfortable enough to go to an adult in the building to talk, but as a safety precaution, this will be an option for them, too.”
Students will be encouraged to call 205-329-5154, which is routed to one of the district’s cell phones and is monitored by a program coordinator. Students can either leave a voicemail or send a text message with information about possible issues that teachers may not be aware of.
“If they choose not to leave a name, we won’t investigate who called,” Moore said.
Principals will be informed daily as to any concerns that may have been reported, so they can address any issues that may be occurring.
“I still think there’s no substitute for a student telling a parent and the parent calling the school, or a child talking to an adult at school for a problem or a perceived problem, but there have been cases where kids just don’t feel comfortable or are scared, and we don’t want that,” Moore said.
While the number will be available for students at all three schools, Moore expects that the service will be most valuable for middle school students.
“Middle school is really when, if bullying starts, that’s typically when it starts, Moore said. “Now, they have several mechanisms to report what they see.”