(MOBILE, Ala.) With just $5,000 and a goal, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich spearheaded the Bullyblocker program one year ago. The program allows local kids to anonymously text complaints and tips about bullying.
"It's important for our office to be involved in bullying, because the bully is three times more likely to have a criminal record," Rich says.
By texting 'bullyblocker' to 839-863, kids receive a series of questions to identify the problem and the bully.
Rich says it's working--during the first school year kids texted in about one tip per day. One such message may have helped save a life.
"We had a young person in one of our schools provide us with a tip that a young man was going to commit suicide," Rich says. "We were able to make contact with the young man and his family. We were able to put suicide prevention measures into place and get him the help he needed."
The key to the program is allowing kids who might not report a problem face to face to come forward.
"If they don't feel comfortable talking to a principal, talking to a parent, that is when Bullyblocker becomes involved," says Ann Sirmon with the District Attorney's office.
The biggest challenge moving forward is finding ways to expand the program with virtually no budget for advertising.
"We're doing the best we can to get the word out through the schools and our brochures and our posters, hoping the students will take advantage of the program," Rich says.