Cellphone app to curb child abuse

The newly launched application was designed to give learners the ability to anonymously report incidents ranging from bullying to sexual or drug abuse.

Director of The Guardian Group Marc Hardwick giving current statistics and explaining how the App operates and how The Guardian plans to reduce the incidence of abuse among learners.

IN a first for the world, a Durban based specialist child abuse investigation business is using technology to combat and bring perpetrators of such crimes to book.

The Guardian, South Africa, launched the Anonymous Mobile Reporting Application, an App which is designed to give learners at school the ability to anonymously report on incidents ranging from bullying to sexual or drug abuse involving themselves or their friends, this week.

Championed by former Child Protection Unit officer, Marc Hardwick, the app is specifically designed for use in schools and will give children a safe, instant and anonymous tool to report bullying, sexual assault, physical abuse or any of the many challenges facing children today.

“Schools who sign up for the app will pay a monthly fee of approximately R500 and all learners at that school who have downloaded the free app from either the Play Store or Apple App Store can report on issues they or their friends may be experiencing.”
“The system is set up to ensure that only predefined staff at the school can access these reports and the investigation is managed by a senior staff member using reporting system technology,” he said.

Describing how the app works, Hardwick said member schools appoint a staff ambassador for the app.

“A team of staff members called investigators then support the ambassador. When a report is submitted, it will arrive as an email to predefined staff members informing them to login into a system to access the details of the report and take the necessary action to safeguard the child.”

“The staff member has the ability to request further information from the reporter but will never know their identity. This is extremely important to us, as the power of this app, is ensuring the anonymity of the report.”

“We believe that this application will not only help children to report abuse and get the help and support they need, but it will make sure the perpetrators are brought to book.”
“We see is it as a proactive tool in the fight against these kinds of crimes which often go unreported as children are too afraid to speak up,” he added.

More recently, 20 learners at Parktown Boys’ High are accusing their water polo coach of sexual assault in one of the biggest scandals to hit a local school.

The outrage began after surveillance footage allegedly caught the teacher fondling a 15-year-old boy’s genitals.