Boston schools adopt free anti-bullying text service from Blackboard

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and BPS Superintendent John McDonough announced a major upgrade to the BPS Bullying Prevention Hotline. Starting today students and parents can send a text message to (617) 765-7125 to report concerns about school bullying or student safety. An automated system will ask questions about the initial report to gather more information and then alert BPS bullying prevention experts, who can then engage with students to help.

“There is nothing more important than making sure students are safe in school, and we are proud to add new ways for our students and parents to join this effort,” said Mayor Menino. “Our anti-bullying hotline has helped keep students safe and this new technology lets us stay many steps ahead of anyone who would want to do our children harm. We hope every student and parent programs these numbers into their phones.”

The new two-way texting service, called TipTxt™ is powered by Blackboard Inc.. Using TipTxt, students can feel safe informing safety teams about issues confidentially without the fear of retaliation or embarrassment that they might feel talking to someone in person. This platform adds to the existing BPS Bullying Prevention Hotline, at (617) 592-2378. That hotline reaches a live operator or a voicemail system that is checked several times a day.

In the last two years more than 350 people have called the hotline – and the BPS Counseling and Intervention team follows up on every report. In an emergency, students and staff are always advised to call 911.

“This technology will help students and families send us critical information so we can act quickly,” said Boston School Committee Chair Michael O’Neill. “We look forward to seeing this technology in action this year.”

“Students might be more comfortable sending us a text message than making a phone call if they see bullying happen in a hallway or on a school bus,” said BPS Interim Superintendent John McDonough. “We want to help them report concerns quickly, confidentially and in a way they know will get results. TipTxt allows them to do just that.”

“We’re excited to partner with BPS in an important effort to support kids having a safe and positive school experience,” said Jay Bhatt, Blackboard CEO. “We know that students are increasingly using mobile devices, and texting is an important part of how they communicate. With TipTxt we wanted to leverage this trend to increase the likelihood that students will reach out for help and not have to deal with issues alone.”

Students and families should program these numbers into their cell phones for easy access:
BPS Anti-Bullying Hotline (for voice calls): 617-592-2378
BPS TipTxt (for text messages): 617-765-7125

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