A smart phone app for school pupils that facilitates anonymous reporting of sexual abuse or bullying has been launched in SA. Creator Marc Hardwick‚ speaking at the launch in Durban on Wednesday‚ said the Guardian Schools app gives children a safe and instant portal to report contentious issues.
Schools that sign up for the app‚ at a monthly fee of R500‚ designate a team of staff members to receive the faceless reports‚ with any pupil who downloads the app able to report abuse or malfeasance.
"When a report is submitted‚ it will arrive as an e-mail to the pre-defined staff members, informing them to log in to the system to access the details of the report and take the necessary action to safeguard the child‚" said Hardwick.
"The staff members have the ability to request further information from the reporter, but will never know their identity. This is extremely important to us‚ as the power of the app is ensuring the anonymity of the reporter."
Once the school investigates the matter‚ they can choose to refer the matter to the police.
"We believe this app will not only help children report abuse and get the help and support they need timeously‚ but will make sure the perpetrators are brought to book," Hardwick said. "We see it as a proactive tool in the fight against these kinds of crimes which often go unreported as children are too afraid to speak up."
Hardwick said that the need for an abuse reporting portal had been underscored by the Parktown Boys’ High School scandal‚ in which more than 20 pupils were allegedly sexually abused by a water polo coach: "If the school had had the app there is a possibility that the kids could have made a disclosure about what was happening to them and the abuse may not have been so widespread."
A pilot version of the app was launched late last year.
On its website‚ the organisation states that it works with a host of schools including Kearsney College‚ Michael Mount Waldorf‚ Michaelhouse‚ Midrand Montessori‚ Redhill‚ Roedean, and Sacred Heart College.