Online or cyber bullying has become an epidemic among youngsters in the Bay Area and nationwide, so much so that the South Bay’s largest school district is launching an app.
The San Jose Unified School district is experimenting with the Stop It app, which allows students to report bullying anonymously.
But students at one pilot school program, Hoover Middle School, said the app needs more and, along with police, made an anti-bullying video to go with the app.
San Jose police released the video online Thursday to support the Stop It app, and Hoover students saw it for the first time, just before the release, saying it was "heart-wrenching" but "gratifying" project.
In the video, anxious Theater Arts students at Hoover show how fast teens often post someone’s humiliation. The video was produced with guidance and production assistance by San Jose police.
Students said the trauma in the video is very familiar.
"It hurts you, and it makes you feel like no one likes you and you’re like nobody," Nathan Kassel said.
Karina Meraz added: "It’s not as easy to make friends anymore, and it’s hard to really let people in to get to know you just because of that."
Students and police want a proactive approach because the Hoover app had 49 reports when it debuted in December but just three in February.
Hoover Middle School has 1,100 students, and the lack of the app's use was concerning. Police Chief Eddie Garcia wanted to warn students online bullying makes you responsible for what a victim could ultimately do to themselves.
"And those effects linger," Garcia said. "And the effects of those words are what really makes us think whether something is a crime or not."
Students said a message from fellow students will help.
"We’ve gone through that stuff, and we’re going through that stuff, like, right now," Kassel said.