WENTZVILLE, Mo. — Wentzville R-IV School District has seen a 24% drop in school bus behavior referrals less than one year after partnering with the CyberBully Hotline to create a school bus tip line program.

Officials said that the bus tip line makes it easy for students who ride any of the district’s 141 buses to report inappropriate behavior.

“The bus tip line acts as a deterrent to bad behavior, just as cameras in school buildings do,” said Dr. Melody Marcantonio, the district’s assistant superintendent for administrative services.

Marcantonio oversees Wentzville’s bullying and violence prevention programs, and she said that the tip line has helped school leaders prevent or quickly resolve many behavior issues.

Administrators received reports about bullying and cyberbullying through the bus tip line, as well as other types of inappropriate behavior. Another issue that has been reported is drug possession.

“This past spring, we were able to identify and discipline a student in possession of drugs thanks to a tip made through the bus tip line program,” Marcantonio said.

The tip line was provided by the CyberBully Hotline, a St. Louis-based provider of anonymous bully reporting technology to K-12 schools nationwide.

Wentzville students can call or send a text message to the bus tip line — a dedicated local hotline number — to report any issue. District leaders can respond to messages in real time via a computer application or a mobile app and have a two-way anonymous dialogue with those who have sent in tips.

The program at Wentzville was launched in November 2013. District administrators said that they are pleased by the results of the bus tip line, and they feel that it has had a positive effect on students.

Marcantonio noted that students feel safer on the bus, and she said that the tip line has also had an effect on students who might be tempted to engage in inappropriate behavior.

“It makes students think twice,” she said.

For more information on CyberBully Hotline, go to www.cyberbullyhotline.com.

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