In October, Norwalk, CT police reported a student faced charges that he posted inappropriate pictures of a teacher on Streetchat. Police say the student used the app to post pictures of the teacher in embarrassing positions, and then posted inappropriate comments about them. Also in CT, officials have banned Streetchat from Greenwich High's Wi-Fi network, amid concerns about it creating another forum for cyberbullying. Law enforcement in Raleigh, North Carolina is urging parents not to allow children to download the app for fear it would encourage bullying. The concern among law enforcement, educators, and parents is growing and problems have been reported from multiple cities. Teachers and parents in one Louisiana school district took a novel approach to offset Streetchat's potential for cyberbullying at their school.
“You're looking at suspension or expulsion from school,” Guidance Counselor John Navy explained. “There's zero tolerance when it comes to bullying - it's illegal to bully.”
So naturally, Navy was concerned when he first heard about the app, "Streetchat." Users find their schools, and the app lets them post photos and messages anonymously.
“In these instances, technology is not good because these kids are using it as a dangerous tool. They're using it to get at one another in different schools or people within their school that they don't like,” Navy said.
Navy thinks the application is a new trend in cyber-bullying, and he says it's the perfect venue for that activity at Ellender and other schools throughout the bayou area.
Even teachers ended up as targets.
“It's just such a hateful thing for people to do anonymously,” said Ellender Principal Blaise Pelligrin. “It's already a cowardly thing to bully someone else, but when you can do it without knowing who it is, it's even worse.”
So to fight that, Pelligrin says parents and teachers signed up for Streetchat.
“Got a great idea from one of the other principals, he said to get your parents to take it over,” Pelligrin said. “Instead of a negative website where kids are doing things to make people feel bad, build up the positive things going on in the school.”
School officials noticed a difference immediately. New posts show the students did too. One features the caption, ”Streetchat has a virus. Y'all's parents.”
“We even got our student council, our band, some of our bigger organizations to help take it over - highlight the positive,” Pelligrin said.
But Navy and school officials are remaining vigilant.
“We're asking kids who may know who is posting this stuff to let us know,” Navy said. “We're asking parents to be proactive, get on their kids about it. Talk to them.”
Navy says that's because as technology advances, the school knows new avenues for cyber-bullying will still pop up.
Written by Jessica Shaw
Published on wfsb.com