Hoping to combat the "snitch" label that often leads to silent suffering, six Utah schools have introduced a Web site that allows students to anonymously report bullies.
A Brigham Young University student, Justin Bergener, created the site, which also lets students post information about thefts, drugs and harassment.
Bergener said he hopes students who might otherwise be too scared or shy to speak up will be willing to post on the site.
"There really is this culture and code of silence that's particularly prevalent in middle schools and high schools," Bergener said.
Many students may not want to be seen in the office talking to an authority figure, said Rosanna Ungerman, principal of Provo's Dixon Middle School.
"It allows students to have an outlet and avenue to report things they might otherwise not have reported," Ungerman said.
Nearly 50 schools in other states are also using the Web site.
Here's how it works: School administrators are made aware of any tips either by e-mail or text message, Bergener said. For some schools, students have to create a logon and password to send a tip, but they still remain anonymous, though. But in most cases, schools allow anyone to send a tip with no need to give personal information.
"They'd rather have 10 good ones and one false one than none at all," Bergener told The Associated Press on Monday.
Bergener said his Web site is simply a third party that ships the tips along. SchoolTipline, which also has participating schools in Texas, Washington, California and Arizona, doesn't read the tips or reply to them. If a tip goes unread for a day or so, though, SchoolTipline reminds schools it's there.
The six Utah schools using the Web site include elementary, middle and high schools.
Even some parents have reported incidents anonymously, said Judy Runolfson, Lehi Junior High's assistant principal.
"There's a greater awareness that it's a situation that needs to be looked into right away because we know it can lead from something that's not that bad to something much worse," Runolfson said.
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