A Parent's Guide to School Safety Toolkit
3.3 Anonymous Reporting
School districts are required to have an anonymous reporting system available for students to report instances of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or other student safety concerns. Parents and school staff should still report bullying, however the system to report anonymously is only required for reporting by students.
Anonymous reporting provides a tool, whether through a website, application, or phone number, in which a person can report concerning behaviors without having to identify themselves as the reporter. As a best practice, districts are encouraged to provide multiple reporting mechanisms, including anonymous reporting options, to encourage people to report concerning behaviors such as bullying, talk of or posts on suicide or self-harm, dating violence, and other dangerous, threatening behaviors. This ensures that all safety concerns are reported.
Will I be notified if my child is involved in bullying?
Parental notification regarding bullying incidents is required by law. The parent (or guardian) of the victim or target of the bullying is to be notified on or before the 3rd business day after the reporting date (when the school is notified). The parent or guardian of the child who has allegedly bullied is to be notified within a reasonable amount of time.
Where can I find my school district’s anonymous reporting system, and the district’s policy and procedures on bullying?
The policy and procedures adopted by the board must be included annually in the district’s student handbook and in the district improvement plan. They must include:
- How to report an incident of bullying, including anonymous reporting procedures.
- Procedures for investigating reports of bullying.
- Procedures for determining whether the reported incident of bullying occurred.
The procedure for reporting bullying, including anonymous reporting, must be posted on the district's internet website.
School safety is a shared responsibility. Although your child may have fears about reporting school safety concerns, it is important to have conversations with your child about the importance of reporting. During these conversations, you can alleviate their fears and concerns by talking about the truth behind each fear. Children are often resistant to reporting peer incidents for the following reasons:
- They fear retaliation. Anonymous reporting exists for this reason. Anonymous reporting systems are truly anonymous.
- They do not want to be labeled “a snitch.” It is not “snitching” when you are asking for help for yourself or for others. Asking for help saves lives. Intervention takes place when it is needed, and it provides much-needed help and resources to those who need it. Tell your child that they may be the only person who can help, and the only way they can help is by telling someone.
- They falsely believe that reporting is betraying a friend’s trust. Teach your children to never promise confidentiality. If someone wants them to promise not to tell, you can teach them to say, “I can’t promise you that I won’t tell anyone because I don’t know what you are going to tell me. I care about you, and if you tell me that you may hurt yourself or someone else, I have to tell someone because I care about you.” Teach your child that they may be the only person who can help them, and they can help them by telling someone. They may save their life or someone else’s life by telling.
- They think someone else already has reported or will report it. The right thing to do is report it anyway. They will never know whether someone else has or will. Even if a peer says they have reported it, they may just be saying that.
- They do not believe anything will be done about it. There are procedures and laws in place to investigate reports. Sometimes it may appear like nothing is being done, but that is because school staff must abide by privacy rules. They did their part by reporting it.
- They do not believe it is their responsibility to report it. “It’s not my problem.” School safety and school climate is everyone’s responsibility. They may be the only person who can provide intervention before it is too late.
Children and adults must be educated and empowered to report concerning, dangerous behaviors so that prevention and intervention efforts can be utilized when they are needed.
If you are not sure about the reporting options provided by your child’s district or charter school, contact the main administrative office for specific, detailed information, as there is no single, specific mechanism required in Texas schools.
What Should My Child Know?
Each district should have behavior reporting procedures in place to report concerning behaviors. It is important for your child to know what the anonymous reporting system is, and how to use it. Speak with your child about the importance of reporting all student safety concerns. If they see or hear something that concerns them, makes them feel unsafe, or that is dangerous, they need to say something. Ensure that your child knows that the anonymous reporting system is truly anonymous, as your child may be hesitant to use it, falsely believing that their identity will be revealed.