After School app causing cyber bullying concerns

We’ve all heard about apps like Facebook and Twitter, but there are thousands more and they could put your child’s safety at risk.

Cyber bullying can lead to felony charges if you live in Kentucky and Illinois and misdemeanor charges if you live in Tennessee. After dealing with a cyber bullying case of their own, leaders in one local community say anonymous posts aren’t as secretive as you think.

Like many schools in the area, Vienna High School administrators use social media to tie their school to their community. "Our goal is to keep everybody in the loop,” said Superintendent Josh Stafford. “If something is going on at school, we want people to be aware of that."

While Stafford teaches his students to use social media in a positive way, there has recently been a disturbing trend nationwide."Technology has made it easier for us to hide behind a keyboard," said Stafford.

Apps like After School might sound like a teaching tool, but it’s not. Students use it to post the latest gossip and spread rumors. Johnson County sheriff’s deputy David Stewart says by doing that they may be breaking the law.

"There is a law in Illinois against cyber bullying,” said Stewart. “It’s something that we here in Johnson County take very seriously and we pursue."

While the posts claim to be anonymous, app developers track user information, making it easy to track down the culprit.

"Once you post it, it’s out there for everyone to see,” said Stewart. “It’s not private. It’s not your own personal stuff. When you put it on the internet, it’s there for the whole world to see."

"We can’t be the society that hides behind a keyboard, because we’re just not going to tolerate it," said Stafford.

It’s another reminder to talk with your kids about bullying and what social media apps they use.

In Illinois, students are required by law to turn over their passwords to school administrators if they are suspected of cyber bullying.

We reached out to the developers of the After School app who told us, "We are doing a number of steps to prevent people from misusing our application. We have 24/7 live support for all students. This means if someone posts a message like ‘I’m depressed right now,’ within seconds we will connect them to one of our support counselors." 

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