School Officials Aware of Barred Social Media Site

A social media application that allowed students to post content anonymously was barred from the Apple Store last week due to violent threats and bullying posted on their message board.

Students who used the “After School” app would find their school and join the group, posting messages for everyone at the school to see – but without anyone being able to tell who posted it.

According to “After School,” “this gives people the right to express themselves.”

Londonderry High School Principal Jason Parent said he is aware of students using apps that allow for anonymous posting, like After School and another similarly controversial app called Yik Yak, which was created to serve as a local bulletin board for communities, where people may share information anonymously. There have not been any major incidents of a student at the school being bullied on the app.

“We discourage students from using apps like this,” said Parent. “I can’t see the benefits of Yik Yak. I have always been a proponent of engaging with individuals face-to-face.”

Londonderry Police Det. Chris Olson also said he hasn’t seen any cases of student bullying through the apps, but advises parents to be aware of and monitor their child’s use of the message boards.

Students sign up to use the app through Facebook, giving the app complete access to their friends, education, and location information, which the creators claim is “to verify that you actually go to the school that you claim you do.”

The After School app tells users that parents and school administrators aren’t able to discern their identities. It says, “’After School’ is a place where you can post freely with anonymity. Now and always. Anyone who claims to be an administrator is lying and is only able to see exactly what all other users see,” its website states.

“That’s scary,” Londonderry Middle School Principal Richard Zacchilli said. “It has helped that kids know now if they send something inappropriate out, it will be public information. If someone sends something inappropriate or is bullying someone in a text, that person can bring us the text and we can see who sent it.”

In the case of a teen in Michigan who posted a shooting threat, the app’s creators did work with local authorities to track down the user who had posted the content, according to reports from the media in Michigan.

And recently, the app set a control restricting use to students over the age of 17.

Since the app has been banned, those who register on the site with their phone number are unable to download it through the Apple Store. The site features a graphic of a tiger wearing sunglasses on the body of a woman wearing a bikini.

Zacchilli said in an effort to address the issue of cyberbullying in and after school, the middle school holds grade-level meetings at the beginning of the school year to talk about the negative aspects of cyberbullying, and the School Resource Officer speaks to students in their Health and Computer classes.

Additionally, guest motivational speakers often focus on bullying and handling cyberbullying – not only to discourage students from being bullies themselves, but also to provide students with strategies if they are the one being bullied.

“We held a workshop for parents last year to help them understand what’s going on when they’re not watching. We may do that again this year,” Zacchilli said, noting that while there are kids who bully other students at the school, it’s not a major problem and he has seen the number of cases drop over the last three years.

“I always think kids are getting access to things too early, but over the years I think we have done a good job of educating the kids. And the kids can bring their phones into school now and use them for educational purposes, which I think has helped,” he said.

Staff will address anything that comes into the school that disrupts a student’s day or educational instruction, and cyberbullying hasn’t been a major issue, according to Parent.

“We have invited more conversations about what goes on outside the school or on the phone and we’re really trying to work with parents,” he said. “And we encourage parents to work with us if they feel their child is dealing with any issues.”

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