Bullying in middle schools has recently garnered much publicity as many organizations and activists seek to present a viable solution to help address the issue. However, most of these proposed solutions are built around the idea of an adult counseling or supervision team that develops programs for student education. Usually, these programs fail to positively impact the lives of bullies and their victims due to the lack of understanding of the culture that shapes their behavior.
Our goal as a team was to empower students with a means to report, mediate or avert bullying in middle schools. We believe that by putting the tools right in the hands of the students, we will be able to foster a higher sense of responsibility, build positive relationships and improve self-esteem.
Our solution was to create a closed social network that allows schools to leverage current technology and the existing culture of middle school students – particularly those who are victims of bullying situations – to anonymously report bullying incidents, seek counsel when victimized and also exchange ideas with peers.
One key decision we made was to mask the identity of the user from other students by providing customizable avatars. However, their real identity will be available (upon sign-up) to the school counselor or supervisor for purposes of maintaining integrity.