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Local News

Parents Alerted About New Cyber Bullying App

afterschoolap.jpg

Concerned about cyber bullying, Escambia County School District officials are alerting parents and taking steps to cut off student access to a new and highly offensive social media application.

The “app” is called “After School – Funny Anonymous School News For Confessions and Compliments.” Described as ‘an anonymous and private message board for your school,’ the app can be downloaded to an iPhone, iPod, through Apple’s web browser Safari and via Facebook.

 “It began to go viral around shortly around Thanksgiving and in the last couple of days has just caught fire,” said Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

Use of the app primarily has been at the high school level, although some middle school students were involved.  

In some cases there were graphic and sexually explicit videos, followed by students displaying inappropriate comments, sometimes about students in the own schools or neighboring ones.

“It’s the kind of app where it has these preloaded pictures (and) statements; you supply a name and it’ll post it anonymously. Most of the postings would be vulgar, profane, harassing, and could even be seen as pornography or cyber bullying,” Thomas said. “Anyone that viewed these postings would agree that it’s not something that even adults probably should be messing with, much less students.”

Thomas says he can’t see where the app has any benefit. His greatest concern is the victimization of the people, including students, who are being named in the anonymous postings.

“It might be funny to the person that just types a name into this vain, vulgar statement. But, it’s not very funny when the whole school gangs up on that girl or that boy and they feel like they’re the victim in a cyber-environment and that’s really what I’m trying to stand against the hardest here.”

Thomas wants to make it clear that this app - again called “After School – Funny Anonymous School News For Confessions and Compliments” - is in NO way affiliated, endorsed, or organized through the Escambia School District.

What’s encouraging is that the app was brought to Thomas’ attention by a group of concerned students.

After looking into it, the District began to take steps to internally to block the use of the app using any and all district resources. What can’t be prevented or controlled by school officials is the students’ use of the app from their own cell phone system.

Although the app is no longer available on Apple’s App Store, it’s still available to those who’ve already downloaded it. That’s why the Superintendent is reaching out to parents, to alert them and ask for their help.

“So we’re requesting parents to ask their child to look on their device to see if they have the “After School” app. If they do, it has an icon with a tiger wearing sunglasses. If they do, delete the application, and if they delete it, that will end the episode for their student,” said Superintendent Thomas.

Moving forward, any student caught using this ‘inappropriate and potentially dangerous’ app during the school day will be subject to disciplinary action. That could mean suspension for the most egregious offenders.