This Teen-Developed App Helps Kids Speak Out About Bullying

There have always been bullies. Not exactly a newsflash, but in today’s ultra-connected world their tyranny is worse than ever. Back in the day it was confined to the schoolyard and maybe a few neighbors were aware of the humiliations suffered by the kids who were teased or beaten up. But now, potentially everyone can know about it. Posts, videos, and memes—cyberbullying— targeting certain kids have even led to tragic and senseless suicides.

That’s why high school student Lucie Cadova and a core group of her besties decided to create an app to combat the bullying. Using their own technology, they are fighting fire with fire with the app FaceUp.

Statistics show that 41% of kids witness bullying at least once a week, but only 20-30% speak up about it. On top of that, only 10% of parents know when their child is a cyberbullying victim. And teachers, no matter how attentive they are, can’t always help. In 64% of cases, bullying happens outside the class. There are 130,000 schools in the United States. Daily, there are an estimated 160,000 kids who don't show up to class out of fear that they might not make it back home in one piece.

Thanks to Lucie and her friends—all former victims of bullying—students now have an easy, anonymous way to speak up and seek help for themselves or their classmates. Reporting is as easy as filling out just one simple form in the mobile FaceUp app or directly on their site.

We caught up with Lucie to ask her about how she became not only an anti-bullying advocate, but a teenage entrepreneur.

Why did you decide to create the FaceUp app, and how did you actually go about it?

For us, high school life has been anything but rainbows and unicorns. We all experienced bullying firsthand – some of us as victims, others as silent spectators who now wish they had known just how to speak up.

So we got together and created the app on our own, first as a high school project which then grew into something bigger than that. The design was mostly Jiri's idea, but the rest of the boys (Jakub, Pavel, and Patrick) coded it.

We kept the concept pretty simple and user-friendly. Each school can register online to be connected through the app and then students can use either the website or download the app to report any issues they or their friends have, without the fear of being exposed or targeted. All reports are done anonymously so there’s absolutely no fear of reprisal. Not only can a student report an issue, but they can also get a response back from a teacher or administrator on the next steps to take.

Our goal is to help kids who are bullied as well as those who are bystanders witnessing acts of aggression – a group of silent spectators that is much larger than you imagine. We want everyone to feel safe to speak up and get heard.

The suicide statistics listed on your site are scary. Has the rate of suicide among kids gone up with the advent of social media, or are we just hearing more about it now?

Social media definitely has had an impact. It's much easier to act inappropriately online over when you’re face to face with someone. There’s a feeling on anonymity, a certain distance that gives people the false impression that it’s ok to say or do things they wouldn’t otherwise. On FaceUp, we take advantage of the anonymity aspect within our platform and sort of turn it around for a good cause.

On top of how much easier it is to bully online, social media also gives that bullying the potential to go viral. It’s shareable and spreads way faster than word of mouth. Everyone has a phone these days and it’s so easy to snap a picture of someone, add some text, and start sharing it. And there’s no way to get away from it all. You leave school, go home, and the bullying follows you just about everywhere, always there on your phone or other device.

How can students start using the app?

Parents or students can reach out to their school administrators or PTSA. There’s no barrier to signing up. It’s entirely free for everyone to use. The school admin just needs to sign up the school online and begin to inform its student body about how to use the app. It's a really easy way to empower kids who want to speak up against bullying but are scared or unsure of how to go about it.

Would you recommend FaceUp to your school? How does your school deal with bullying? Share your thoughts and stories with us!

If you have a personal story you would like to share, contact us at [email protected]

Tags : school   bullying   

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