The Granite Bay High School website has a valuable resource that many students are unaware of.
An anonymous bullying reporting system offers students the opportunity to speak up without fear of retaliation.
Assistant principal Brian McNulty said the reports are a valuable tool to ensure student safety.
“I get a notification via email,” McNulty said. “It defaults to anonymous. If people want to put their names in, then they have to take the next step.”
Once a form is completed, administration immediately is alerted, without any knowledge of the identity of the student who submitted the report. Steps are taken following the notification in order to investigate and ensure the safety of all students.
The reporting system can be found on the GBHS website homepage and is available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, more recently, there have been changes to the protocol regarding the notifications.
“I haven’t gotten a call in the middle of the night since December because we said, ‘Hey, if it’s after hours, they can call the cops,’ or I can look at it when I come on duty,” McNulty said.
The form allows witnesses to fill in who was involved along with the location and date of the incident. An optional information section allows students to choose to identify themselves and include a photo for evidence of the situation.
Many students said they believe this is a valuable resource for the GBHS campus. Junior Grace Putman said the system points students in the right direction.
“There are so many people who don’t know who to turn to if they are being bullied,” Putman said.
Senior Bethany Brooding also sees the value in offering students the opportunity to speak up without fear of backlash.
“Taking care of yourself and your reputation is important here, so I do think that having the anonymous element makes it a lot safer and more credible for students,” she said.
In addition to an informational and optional section, the form’s primary question asks the student whether or not it is an emergency.
This enables administration to act quickly and switch gears on the “Catapult System” if the reporter identifies the situation as an emergency.
“(The report) would be vetted out to the police or after-hours officials,” McNulty said. “Some of the time, this can be an emergency situation.”
In addition to bullying reports, many students have also utilized the form to report other instances of misbehavior on campus.
“If there’s a reasonable suspicion, following the report, we can search you,” McNulty said. “We can search everything within 1,000 feet of the campus.”
All reports are taken seriously regardless of whether or not they are bullying reports, and students can still be held responsible.
“I want everybody to know these things because ignorance of the law is no excuse – learn the laws and act accordingly,” McNulty said. “For the safety of the school, (when) it’s reported, we follow up.”
Students have begun to see another use for the form following the recent shift in focus on school culture.
“I do think that could be a good resource for people, especially now that the teachers watched the video and our school culture is becoming more of an issue,” Brooding said.
Putman also said that now is the right time to utilize the system as she believes that culturally offensive racial slurs are a form of bullying.
However, McNulty said that before students fill out any report, they need to consider the legitimacy of the circumstances.
“A couple questions I would ask for people to ask themselves before they were to report are (if) they see it as bullying, (if) are they being harassed or (if) they feel unsafe,” McNulty said. “Then the answer is probably yes (they should file a report).”
The anonymous bullying system offers a valuable resource for those unsure of where to turn. However, some critics said there has been a lack of communication regarding what the program does.
“I wasn’t aware of this until my junior year,” Brooding said. “I think that the school does a disservice by mentioning something one time or making a very off-handed comment and not reinforcing it. I think the majority of students (don’t) know that it’s available to them.”
At the end of the day, McNulty said the Catapult system deserves recognition for the security it provides, in addition to the anonymous bullying reporting system.
“I think it’s stellar because all of the adults on this campus can be communicated with,” he said. “We have information that can go out instantaneously. This keeps us current with what’s going on across our country, across our world, and trying to give us a leg up against somebody trying to harm us.”