New policies set the stage for greater security
The beginning of October marked many things: the start of fall, the season of trick-or-treating, and Homecoming week. It also marked the beginning of Bullying Prevention month. In the spring of 2017, Katy ISD planned a new anti-bullying campaign, including videos and events demonstrating what actions to take if bullying is experienced or witnessed. The OnTheGo app launched in August, allowing students to easily and anonymously report bullying.
“By having the app available to students, they can see what the definition of bullying is, and what resources they have,” campus police officer Joseph Danna said. “It is to make them aware, so they can get help if they feel victimized.”
The school environment has historically been an easy place for bullies to target their classmates. This is usually due to a victim’s unwillingness to report someone; the chance a perpetrator would find out they were reported kept them quiet. In terms of increasing safety, this made the anonymity of the app practical.
“Bullying has been around a long time,” Danna said. “Students, for whatever reason, feel superior to others and try to gain leverage on other kids. It always starts in the family, usually older siblings, to toughen up the younger ones.”
Students and staff from all Katy ISD schools can use the app, which helps with the district-wide initiative to increase safety. The effort also introduced a new ID policy, which requires all students to wear lanyards and IDs.
“When I first got my ID, I thought it was a little unnecessary because of all the attributes that went with it,” sophomore Arya Uprale said. “For example, wasting class time to get a new one. It’s natural to forget an ID. But on the other hand I was also appreciative of the way they were thinking of our safety.”
Like any new policy, the ID policy created just as much annoyance as support.
“I don’t understand the purpose aside from identification,” Uprale said. “It’s easy for the administration, like if we’re tardy, but for us it’s distracting. I’m a little angry that I have to pay $3 for an ID just because I forget mine. If the IDs could also get you in the building, that would be so much easier; I don’t want to rely on someone sitting inside to come let me in. Since I’m in tennis, I need to stop by my locker to drop off my racket and bag. The outside doors are locked, so that’s not something I have time to do.”
Katy ISD doubled down on their safety policies in August, leaving students and staff with new guidelines. However, the additional – and sometimes tiresome – responsibilities today work towards a safer tomorrow.
HOW DOES THE APP WORK?
When you submit a tip, it is sent to an on-campus administrator who looks through them daily. Depending on the seriousness of the tip, it may mean a police investigation or simply a conversation between the students involved. The district will also follow the trends on the app, such as whether cyberbullying is a bigger issue than verbal abuse.
OnTheGo should not be used for emergencies! (You should contact 9-1-1 instead, as always)
The Katy Connect Line is 281-234-2326; if you’re going through emotional or stressful events, give them a call. You can also text them if that feels more comfortable; they will listen and try to give you a solution.
HOW DO I USE THE APP?
Make sure you download Katy OnTheGo for Apple or Android.
The tip line is located on the bottom left
Type in a description of what happened, including when and where the event occurred.
If you’d like to submit a photo as proof, even if it’s a screenshot, attach it.
You can choose to include your name, but it’s optional.
Hit submit, and you’re done!