H-SANTA MARIA

Jan 15, 2013 8:54 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Want to stop bullying? There's an app for that

"We never think it happens to him, but it happens, and it happens at the school," said Arnulfo Romero.

This Santa Maria father says he never knew his son was bullied until he heard him talk about it during a speech in front of classmates and other parents.

A new cell phone app aimed at stopping the silence has been unveiled at Santa Maria high schools.

One of the features found on the app is called the Bully Button.

It's fairly simple to use. Once you tap the Bully Button icon, it will pull up a form to fill out. It asks for the names of the bully, the victim, and the school. It also requires a description of what happened.

"They never told me anything about it," said Romero.

A lot of parents like this dad are in the dark when it comes to their children and bullying.

He found out in a very public way after his son gave a speech and shared his experience.

"He was telling about how he has been bullied before," said Romero, "They don't tell you when it happens, and I wish they would."

Getting kids to report it when it happens is why Santa Maria Joint Unified High School District is using the latest technology to break the silence.

"You will see students checking their phone, texting, emailing," said Eric Blanco, the app's creator, "I would also say if you go to a parent night, you'll also see parents doing the same things."

So Blanco says they decided, why not change the way bullying is reported?

He says many times bullying can sail under the radar for a variety of reasons.

"Students may be afraid to come into our security office or our front office because they don't want the backlash of reporting," said Blanco.

"Instead of having to take that long walk to the office to tell someone in person, you can do it right then and there on your phone," said Kaitlyn Furst, a student at Righetti High School.

But for Romero, it's a solution long overdue.

"It would make a big difference if we had this program before," said Romero.

School district officials say they have not had any reports made through the app yet.
However, they have had a few reports through the district's website where the bully button can also be accessed.

To get your hands on the free bully app, search Righetti in the iTunes store or
Android market.

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