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Round Rock ISD urges students to report cyber-bullying through app

Central Texas school districts are cracking down on students harming others -- especially on social media. This school year, Round Rock ISD is urging more students and parents to download their reporting app, Anonymous Alerts. (CBS Austin)

Central Texas school districts are cracking down on students harming others -- especially on social media. This school year, Round Rock ISD is urging more students and parents to download their reporting app, Anonymous Alerts.

The district started using Anonymous Alerts two years ago. Now that they're actively using the app too, the district will spend the whole first week of school encouraging students to add it to their phones. Anonymous Alerts is an anonymous way kids can speak up.

"We're trying to make it as convenient as possible," says Jenny LaCoste at Round Rock ISD.

LaCoste demonstrated the app for CBS Austin and points out it isn't just for students.

"You're able to select if you're a student, parent, staff member," she explains.

People can use Anonymous Alerts to submit their concerns -- including upsetting posts they've seen on social media. According to Round Rock ISD, more than 520 issues were reported through Anonymous Alerts during the 2017-2018 school year.

"Threats, cyber-bullying, depression, drug use," are some of the concerns the the district sees, according to Mario De La Rosa, Round Rock ISD Director of Safety and Security. He says students are embracing this protected way to speak up.

"They don't want to be singled out. That is the beauty of this app. You do remain anonymous unless it is something really, really important where we have to get the authorities to help us," De La Rosa says.

Anonymous Alerts complies with state mandates to help students report cyber-bullying. David's Law-- was passed in 2017 after high school student David Molak took his own life after months of bulling.

"He showed me a picture of a group message that he was added to where people were taking blows at him," Molak's brother Cliff Molak said in 2016 before David's Law was presented to the legislature.

De La Rosa says because of David’s law, law enforcement does not take cyber-bullying lightly and students should know their actions can have criminal consequences.

"A lot more districts are starting to rely on apps like Anonymous Alerts to be more informed on what's happening to students and their safety," he says.

Round Rock ISD families can add Anonymous Alerts to their smart phones by searching for it in the app store. The special code to log into Round Rock's account is: roundrockisd.

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