Tulsa Public Schools launches new anti-bullying program

TULSA - Tulsa Public Schools will launch a new online program in January to help students, parents, teachers and community members anonymously report incidents of bullying.

It's estimated one in four kids will be bullied before they become adults, and most won't say a word out of fear.

Tulsa Public School officials are hoping a new online tool known as TIPS (Threat Assessment, Incident Management and Prevention Services) will change that.

"We've pretty much got an idea of what we need to do for strategies and what we need to teach the students," said Tenna Whitsel, TPS Student Services Coordinator. "But the problem is trying to find a way for students to communicate to us in a way that they feel safe."

TIPS seeks to solve that problem by allowing students to report incidents of bullying without having to submit their name.

All they have to do is go to the TPS website, find the TIPS link and fill out a form. The form will be sent to school officials to investigate.

"Through this anonymous reporting system students can talk about if they're being harrassed or if they've witnessed harassment," said Whitsel.

Rick Shaw, CEO of Awareity, developed TIPS. Shaw based it off similar programs he had developed for banks, governments and other organizations--helping them identify problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

"We've gone through hundreds and hundreds of events, studying and finding out when incidents occurred," said Shaw about bullying. "They had laws and everything else in place. They just didn't have the tools to connect the dots."

This week Shaw is giving school officials a crash course on how the program works.

Shaw said Tulsa is the first school district in Oklahoma to use his program.

"I'm really impressed with Oklahoma taking a lead on this, especially Tulsa because they're really taking a lead and other schools are interested," said Shaw.

District officials hope surrounding school districts will implement similar programs in the future.

"What we'd like to have happen is this system in particular would be something that a lot of districts around us, at least in our metropolitan area, would use," said Shaw. "Students no longer really live within one district or one community."

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