Cyber safety news from Ascentive
SchoolMessenger today announced that demand for Talk About It®, its anonymous communication service, has been strong since the company’s official launch in January. Over the last 100 days, more than 100 schools have signed up for the service, adding tens of thousands of new students to a user base that already exceeds more than 300,000. A partial list includes: Birmingham City Schools (AL), Food and Finance High School (NY), Irving Independent School District (TX), Mobile County Public Schools (AL), Modoc Joint Unified School District (CA), Montgomery County Public Schools (VA) and Mt. Juliet High School (TN).
Originally launched in 2005, and currently in use by more than 300,000 students, Talk About It is the first and only anonymous communication service that allows students to ‘speak up’ by engaging in text or online messaging with trusted school staff members when on-campus threats, cyberbullying or other concerns occur which warrant attention. Using electronic communications, which are largely ubiquitous among today’s students, reduces the stigma of being seen reaching out to a counselor or faculty member or ‘snitching’ on a fellow student. Schools and districts find it provides students an effective way to break the ‘code of silence’ and initiate a confidential, two-way dialogue that can lead to immediate and actionable results.
“Giving students a comfortable way to communicate with teachers, counselors and administrators is vital to the safe, secure and productive learning environment we want to have in our schools,” said Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Superintendent of Schools for Irving Independent School District, which serves more than 34,000 students in 38 schools and learning centers in Texas. “If students don’t report an issue, then it’s likely to continue being an issue. With Talk About It, students can maintain their anonymity and feel confident that someone will be alerted, listen and then help resolve any problems or concerns.”
“We especially liked the idea of communicating with students in the way they communicate with each other, which is through text and online messaging,” said Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Superintendent of the Birmingham City Schools, which serves 25,000 students in 51 schools in Alabama. “Allowing them to anonymously communicate with an adult they trust will make them more likely to report things that trouble them.”
“Talk About It is a remarkable and unique tool that gives students an outlet for sharing their concerns without fear,” said David K. Akridge, Executive Manager of Information Technology for Mobile County Public School System. MCPSS is the largest public school system in the state, serving over 63,000 students in more than 100 schools and facilities across Mobile County.
“We are excited about the adoption of the Talk About It program as it will allow our staff to reach our students in the technology world — which is where they live — in order to engage in effective conversations with them,” said Mike Martin, Superintendent, Modoc Joint Unified School District, which is located in the northeast corner of California. “A top priority for us is a safe learning and working environment and we feel confident that the service will assist us in addressing this high priority.”
“In this time of high profile bullying incidents, Talk About It delivers an ideal means of communicating with anonymity, comfort and safety where our student body can feel free to speak out,” said Roger Turgeon, principal, Food and Finance High School in New York City.
“When we launched under the SchoolMessenger brand in January we had high hopes for continued growth of our business, but the last few months have far exceeded our expectations,” said Carter B. Myers, vice president of Anonymous Communications Solutions for SchoolMessenger and co-developer of Talk About It. “The fact that we have brought on board over 100 schools in just the first 100 days is a testament to the value that school leadership places on having a true two-way dialogue with students regarding bullying and other issues.”