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Technology

Tool Tackles School Violence

By David Dean, posted Jun 1, 2018
ProText My School is a text-based system created by a Wilmington company that gives students an anonymous way to send information about bullying and possible threats directly to officials who then follow up.
A Wilmington technology company is looking to play a major role in preventing tragedies like the recent school shootings in Florida and Texas.
 
Ten8Tech has partnered with the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence (NCPCV) to launch ProText My School, a text-based system giving students an anonymous way to send information about bullying and possible threats directly to their school resources. Tips are texted to a school-specific number; the tipster is then engaged in a real-time conversation, receiving immediate feedback, instructions or requests for additional information.
 
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning on a dialogue framework with patented tech, the system checks each tip for keywords and phrases, evaluates them for possible associations to previously received tips and sends alerts to a school-specific response team for action rather than piling up in an administrator’s inbox or national database.
 
“Ten8Tech created ProText My School as part of our relationship with Microsoft; however, we were focused on other corporate strategies and didn’t take it immediately to market. After the Parkland shooting, I knew we couldn’t delay on getting this technology out to the world,” said Anthony Formhals, CEO, president and co-founder of Ten8Tech.
 
Enter Bobby Kipper, NCPCV founder and executive director whom Formhals had met on the advisory board of another organization Ten8Tech was partnering with. “Through NCPCV, we use research-based programs and trainings, paired with ProText My School, to improve school climate, enhance campus safety and disrupt the process of violence before it becomes an event,” Formhals explained.
 
ProText My School is not designed to replace 911 for emergencies, but rather to give school officials more insight into what’s happening on campus so they can help students, parents and staff better communicate, share tips and information about bullying and threats and promote a violence-free environment.
 
The NCPCV role includes training on a variety of school safety issues and creating CARE (Core Accountability Response and Evaluation) Teams of school and community resources like guidance counselors, coaches, administrators, teachers and law enforcement.
 
“Technology can only do so much,” Formhals said, hence the partnership with NCPCV and its Green- Zone program.
 
ProText My School is operational now as Ten8Tech and NCPCV work to clear a path to allow all certified K-12 schools in the United States to use it for free. Part of that effort involves attracting a corporate sponsor and raising funds through a Crowd- Rise campaign.

Correction: This version has been changed to correct Anthony Formhals last name.
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