Local students, parents and teachers are being encouraged to use their computers or smartphones to report bullying and other issues without the stigma or fear of retaliation.
The Lauderdale County School District and East Mississippi Crimestoppers renewed a partnership Monday with an emphasis on the P3 Campus app, which allows students, staff and parents to report problems on or off campus anonymously.
Students can report bullying, self-harm, stalking, concerns about an adult, planned attacks and other issues on the app. Once something is reported, it's either relayed to a school administrator, counselor or resource officer or law enforcement officials.
Pam Vance, executive director of East Mississippi Crimestoppers, said the organization discovered P3 campus two years ago. The app is funded by the organization and covers a six-county region.
She said the app is aimed at students in middle and high school.
“Every year we return and renew this program, with the hope it will be a continuing effort that grows," Vance said.
Robby McClure, a Lauderdale County deputy sheriff and school resource officer at Southeast Lauderdale High, worries that some students don't speak up on problems at school.
“We don’t receive a lot of tips we would like to get,” McClure said.
The app gives students a voice, allowing them to be eyes on ears of a school, he said.
McClure said he has seen parents and students use the app and has seen the numbers of reporting incidents increase.
“I can tell firsthand that it works,” he said. “This gives them a great way to report anonymously.”
Britteny Chaney, the principal of Southeast Lauderdale Middle School, said that last year, parents and teachers were shown how to use the app. Her office usually receives one or two tips a week, she said.
“Our number one goal is to keep students safe on campus and before they can be educated and excel in your academics, they have to be safe,” Chaney said.