An anonymous website where children can report harmful behaviour is uncovering self-harm clubs, drug dealing, bullying and illegal activity at an increasing rate.
Former Sunshine Coast teacher Rachel Downie started Stymie several years ago to provide a safe space for bystander children to speak up without fear.
After a school signs up to the program, students can anonymously upload screenshots from social media or messages via the Stymie website, and that notification is sent directly to the school.
“It’s a way that can cut through that social stigma of speaking up when something goes wrong because they are so worried about their social currency, even when they know things aren’t right,” Ms Downie said.
How Stymie works:
- Students nationally submit an anonymous notification to Stymie every four minutes
- Primary or high school students can submit a notification
- The notification is sent directly to the school
- Notifications are about bullying, illegal activity, self-harm or any issue of concern about their, or another’s, safety
- Stymie is web-only. As an app it could compromise a student’s anonymity
‘Wellbeing toolkit’ investment
Ms Downie said the rate at which children were engaging with the site was alarming, with a notification submitted every four minutes, or about 2,000 per week.
The program was delivered to more than 75,000 students nationally in 2017, but in the past two weeks alone it had reached more than 18,000 students.
Ms Downie, who has been endorsed by the eSafety Commission, said the rate at which schools had taken up the program this year was unprecedented.
“Unfortunately I think some of it has to do with what happened with Dolly Everett over the Christmas holidays,” she said.
“I think that has pushed schools into researching further ways that they can find some tools to go in their wellbeing toolkit.”
While Stymie does not collate information submitted in the notifications, principals regularly give feedback.
“Or if there are serious issues happening at home, illegal activity … drug dealing, and then there’s the bullying and harmful behaviours that come along with that.”
Ms Downie was confident that without those notifications, the school would have been unaware of the issues.
“One of the first things that is often said [by schools] is ‘We had no idea’.”
– Kylie Bartholomew and Annie Gaffney