New App's Unintended Consequence: to Bully Students

November 06, 2017 09:29 PM

With so many social media sites and apps out there, it's difficult to keep up.

Sarahah is a fairly new one, designed to share honest feedback anonymously and intended largely as an office tool for companies to use. Problem is, some teens are using it to bully others.

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A day after Minnesota students took part in a national anti-bullying movement, a Twin Cities family discovered something on their seventh-grader's phone. 

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"I saw the app Sarahah and wondered, OK, what's this," the student's mother said.

Translated, sarahah means "honesty" in Arabic.

The app's intent is to help people discover strengths or areas for improvement by receiving anonymous feedback from coworkers and friends. But that's not was this parent found.

"At first I was shocked," she said. "I couldn't believe kids were talking to each other this way."

We concealed her identity to protect her seventh-grade son, but she shared a few of the messages he's received through the app:

  • "Y do u even go to school nobody likes u"
  • "U r trash at bball and u r a crybaby"
  • "UR an idiot with no life"

"I can't believe that these are things that his peers are saying to him or to each other," his mother said.

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She felt mad, sad and even a little helpless.

"One of the messages was from four weeks ago, so he had been hearing these hurtful things for over a month and we didn't know," she said.

Her son deleted the app, his mom then reached out to the school.

"I am hopeful they will bring this up at the school to talk about it with the students so they are aware of the bad side of these apps," she said.
Now, she's raising awareness and hoping parents will join in on that discussion.

"As parents, it's always hard to know how much to control and how much to trust your kids," she said. "I think a big part of this for us was to tell people about it, don't keep it a secret, talk to others about what's going on. Nothing good comes from anonymous messages."

We reached out to the school district, South Washington County Schools, but did not hear back Monday. 
 

Credits

Jessica Miles

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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