A new online system to report youth violence will be employed by El Campo ISD next spring, officials said Tuesday at the annual public meeting addressing bullying, school safety and student technology use. The El Campo High School event drew about 25 attendees.

The “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System” was created by Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization led by family members of the Sandy Hook School mass shooting in 2012. Devoted to preventing violence through education and intervention, the organization provides an Online tip submission form, phone hotline and app.

Information on active shooter protocol, reporting bullying and cyberbullying and how the school utilizes technology to protect students was shared with a mix of parents, teachers and staff.

“The school also addressed programs at the school and emphasized the importance of bringing up bullying or cyberbullying even if it didn’t occur during school hours or grounds because they have a duty to follow up,” Beverly Michelle wrote via the Leader-News Facebook page.

Instructional technology specialists Chris Skinner and Ashley Barnes presented social media-related information. El Campo Police Department Assistant Chief Gary Williamson and personnel from the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office attended to answer questions.

Skinner informed parents about various apps students can easily access that may be dangerous or have unintended consequences, including Ask.fm, MeetMe, Omegle, TikTok, KiK and Calculator +.

“The parents were amazed at the inappropriate social apps that their children can access,” Superintendent Kelly Waters said.

Ninety-five percent of teens, as of 2018, had access to smartphones, however, less than one third delete or restrict access to their social media because of concerns about how the content could negatively impact them in the future, according to the Pew Research Center.

“Things are different for young people today,” Skinner said. “We weren’t faced with so many opportunities to cause irrevocable harm to our future.”

Skinner advised parents to be aware of what their children do on the Internet.

“The best way to protect our kids is for us to stay informed and be diligent,” Skinner said. “Protecting our children is not an invasion of privacy. It’s a protection against unwanted invasions. Predators are real.”

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