Guided conversations, national best practices, and subject-matter expertise set new path for empowering students to reach out for help
In light of the number of violent incidents on school campuses across the nation, many people are looking for solutions. How can we help our kids? How can we help them feel safe and empowered so they will speak up?
Over the years, some schools have adopted text-to-tip technologies with the hope that students will feel comfortable sharing information digitally without having to speak directly to an adult. Others have developed reporting mobile apps and websites. Some are specific to a school; others gather information into a national clearing house to be reviewed and then redirected to local sources.
The challenges and problems with traditional text-to-tip technology are multifaceted. First, most of these technologies are one-way, flat delivery tools. While they give students an outlet to share information, often, too little information is inputted into the system making resolution or follow up nearly impossible. For example, a student might send a text tip to a national or regionalized system, and fail to provide important details, like the name of the school or location.
ProText My School circumvents this in several ways. First, each school and/or district gets its own, unique number to receive information. Students, parents, staff, and community members can use this number to anonymously share information. Unlike other technologies where information is just passed one-way from the tipster into the system, ProText My School has an automated, intelligent conversation with the user.
This is how it works:
• ProText My School engages users in an automated conversation about what’s happening.
• It provides immediate feedback, instructions, or further questions as needed.
• The ProText My School system, powered by Voice’s patented communication fabric technology, collects critical information from the user.
• The system assesses real-time tips, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
• It analyzes information and compares it to other previously received tips. It can even hone in on specific keywords to send higher-level alerts directly to responders; for example, words such as gun or knife.
• Each school that uses ProText My School technology receives training from subject-matter experts with the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence (NCPCV) to create multidisciplinary CARE teams to respond to information received through the system. This includes school and community resources, like law enforcement.
• ProText My School sends customized alerts to these CARE teams based on specific criteria set by the school. For example, if alerts should go to one team during school hours and another team after hours, the system can be set up to do just that. Also, the system allows a variety of notifications that can be customized by each school including email alerts, phone calls, and text messages.
It’s important to point out ProText My School is not designed to replace 911 for emergencies. Students and staff should use 911 if they are in immediate danger. Instead, the system is designed to give school officials, and when necessary, law enforcement, unique, ground-level insight into what’s going on with their students both in and outside the classroom, as well as how they can help students communicate, share concerns, and encourage a violence-free environment.
In addition to the number for text messaging, schools can also use the ProText My School website. It uses geolocation and the intelligent conversational interface to pinpoint a specific school and interacts with the user to ensure the information is sent to the appropriate local resource. There will also be a mobile application. Students are encouraged to use whichever reporting mechanism they are most comfortable with.
Of course, no matter how thorough we are in encouraging students to use the system to report real incidents, we know false reports may come in. That’s why NCPCV’s role in setting up CARE teams is so important. NCPCV will help each school create its own protocols and strategies to respond to all reports, especially those that are critical or crisis in nature.
The relationship with NCPCV is another critical differentiator between ProText My School and other technologies. As part of our partnership, each school that adopts ProText My School can be part of NCPCV’s national GreenZone program. GreenZone, which has been adopted in schools across the nation, is a tangible, measurable way to identify behavior, promote positive interactions, and create an overall violence-free and positive school climate.
GreenZone outlines three categories or “zones” of behavior (green, yellow, and red) ranging from acceptable to unacceptable, and encourages individuals of all ages to “stay in the GreenZone.” The zones provide an easy avenue to identify and discourage “yellow zone” and “red zone” behavior and promote kindness and civility overall.
GreenZone is tailored to age groups and is designed to be used by students from K-12.
• GreenZone Elementary: Character development
• GreenZone Middle and High School: Bullying prevention
• GreenZone Relationships: Preventing relationship and dating violence among adolescents
• The Zone: Student-led organization that promotes GreenZone behaviors
• GreenZone Parent Program: Encourages parents to adopt GreenZone in their homes
• ProText My School: Anonymous tip reporting for bullying and threats
And, possibly best of all, GreenZone and ProText My School are being offered to every certified K-12 school in the nation free of charge. Why? Because we want to do our part to help interrupt the process of violence, improve school climate, and enhance campus safety response from coast to coast. Together, we can help keep the nation’s 51 million students safer and empowered to speak up when they know something.
See something? Text something. Want to know more about why this is needed and how it works? Visit www.protextmyschool.org and request to bring this to your school today.