Trackademics had a chance to sit down recently with US 1500m Olympian Paul McMullen to talk about the new smartphone anti-bullying app called ParentingPride that he and a diverse team of experts have developed to restore the balance of power in relationships where texting is used in negative ways.
First, here are a few startling facts that led them to recognize the need ParentingPride:
- 160,000 students miss school each day due to being concerned they will be bullied in class.
- Every 30 minutes a child commits suicide as a result of bullying.
- 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics: 77% of children between ages of 10-18 say they have been bullied mentally, verbally or physically.
- Bullying happens wherever kids are......and they are on their phones A LOT.
- Per Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines, phone companies must delete the content of text messages every 3 to 5 days unless served with a subpoena.
Trackademics: What exactly is ParentingPride and how does it work?
McMullen: ParentingPride is a smartphone app that archives all incoming and outgoing text messages from a particular phone. The full content of the messages is stored by a third-party archiver on a secure server with a time and date stamp along with the phone numbers of both the sender and the receiver.
Trackademics: Why is that phrase “third-party” so important?
McMullen: We enlisted the help of a Circuit Court judge to understand what information was useful or not-so-useful to Law enforcement in these cyber-bullying situations. The answer was that if either the sender or the receiver could change or delete the content of a conversation, then it was considered to have the potential to have been altered to suit their needs. In cases with a third-party archiver, the information was able to be taken much more seriously in a court of law because it was much, much less likely to have its credibility torn to shreds during cross-examination. Archiving text messages and photos creates accountability for “cyber” behavior.
Trackademics: How does a ParentingPride subscriber access that information?
McMullen: Subscribers can log in to their secure account at ParentingPride.com to view, select, and print any conversation(s) that they want or need to. A search can be done by keyword or phrase, phone number or by date.
Trackademics: Hmmm, if I’m a high schooler with ParentingPride on my phone, I’m going to be a bit wary about my parents butting in to see all of my personal texts.
McMullen: From the beginning stages of the development process, we were very sensitive to the fact that privacy is an important part of becoming an independent adult. We also know that each family has their own expectations about the age that more and more independence is given to the kids. ParentingPride is an insurance policy for when a child needs help to resolve the issue upsetting them. A child who is saving all their texts can select specific texts to explain the situation without showing all of their private stuff. At ParentingPride, one of our mottos is “We believe in trust”.
Trackademics: So this app can be used on an as needed basis, then?
McMullen: That’s right. Bullying is about those with power and those without power. Archiving restores the balance of power. If someone is being mean, you can warn the bully what they sent is saved and can easily be printed or emailed if they don’t stop.
Trackademics: How can a subscriber be sure that his information is being kept privately and securely?
McMullen: We’ve gone to great lengths to keep the information secure. We have banking industry-level safeguards in our technology.
Trackademics: What would you say to parents who are reading this?
McMullen: ParentingPride bridges the digital divide between you and your kids. It’s not a way to monitor but a way for them to invite you into their texting world and to resolve the drama that sometimes occurs.
Trackademics: What would you say to kids?
McMullen: If you are being bullied, know someone who is or want to avoid it completely, this app was created to help you.
Trackademics: What are the next steps for those who are interested and want to make their phone a “no bully zone”?
McMullen: Find ParentingPride on Facebook or at ParentingPride.com. Your feedback and questions will help us and are always welcome. To download onto Android Smartphones, go to the Google Play Store from your phone. Anyone interested can get a FREE 30-day trial subscription.
Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series. In the style of Star Wars, the next installment will be the “prequel” to Paul getting involved in developing ParentingPride and will include more specifics about his life in track and field. Check back soon to learn more. Paul will be at New Balance Nationals so stop by his booth and visit with him.