It's been nearly a year since Trinity Catholic Schools launched its anonymous reporting app, StopIt.
The app can be used by students to report a variety of rule-breaking from minor incidents such as dress code violations to more serious offenses such as vaping and bullying.
"One of my main goals for it was to establish anonymous dialogue ... There's a lot of anonymous reporting, I think, that happens in schools, but the administration and teachers don't get a chance to dialogue, to provide solutions. It's one-sided, and you really need both sides," said Father Kregg Hochhalter, Trinity's dean of students.
Between October 2018 and May 2019, 41 incidents were submitted by students through the app. Thirty of those reports led to dialogues between students and administrators. Twelve of the 41 total incidents resulted in a parent meeting. Three incidents resulted in suspension from school.
"At that point, I'd have like a 73% successive rate. The idea behind StopIt, ultimately, is to create a culture ... (to reduce) harmful, offensive behavior ... to reduce bullying, and that doesn't happen without anonymous reporting," Hochhalter said.
He said students who were too tolerant of harmful or offensive behavior before are now reporting the behavior to him.
"I would say what has increased is awareness of harmful behavior. Trinity students' tolerance has decreased, which is what you want. Kids are so afraid of narcing, tattling, and I try to change that idea to accountability, that you should hold accountable kids who are being harmful and offensive," Hochhalter said.
He said Trinity has more of a problem with exclusion than bullying.
"It's mean behavior, but it's not bullying. I feel that really hits us. I feel Trinity has a problem with exclusivity; I wish we were more inclusive ... I want to reduce that. I want to be more inclusive, so when we get new students that haven't been here since kindergarten, they're welcomed and loved," Hochhalter said.
Thirty-seven reports were school policy violations such as inappropriate language and dress code violations. One report was about vaping; one was teacher-related, and one was bullying.
The vaping incident involved three junior high students. One boy was trying to get two girls to vape. The bullying incident also involved a junior high student and resulted in a parent meeting.
Of the incidents reported, 68% were from junior high school students.
Hochhalter believes some of the reason for the lower reporting by high schoolers comes from their higher tolerance for behavior and that they may feel more comfortable talking to him directly.
"Junior high schoolers are still pretty intimidated by me. I'm student council adviser, I'm a track coach, and I'm the prom adviser, so they see me in a different vein, and they're more trusting of me. (To) junior high kids, I'm still the mean guy. If I'm in trouble, I talk to Father," he said.
Hochhalter uses the app for broadcasts, too. He sent out 14 positive and/or informational communications to students between Oct. 2018 and May 2019.