Schools around the country, including those in Proviso Township High Schools District 209, are warning parents about a popular social media app that they said is being used by some students to anonymously post hurtful and inappropriate comments.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Yik Yak has been described as a mix between SnapChat and Twitter. Users can scroll through a live feed of anonymous posts from their area, with the site itself reading, "No profiles, no password, it’s all anonymous."
This has led to concern in several schools across the nation about its use in cyberbullying and in verbally abusing students, faculty, and staff. It also has been used in the making of threats, including at a high school in Massachusetts where bomb threats made using the app caused the evacuation of the school. At least two other Chicago area high schools have warned parents about the Yik Yak app, which, according to its website, requires users to be at least 17 years old.
Yik Yak has been blocked on wireless networks at all schools in District 209 in part because of these concerns. It also is being disabled by the company itself in the Chicago area, though parents and students should still be aware of how it works.
"The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a top priority for all of us," said Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent. "We will exercise zero tolerance for anything that even appears to threaten the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. We encourage students to promote digital citizenship by using technology in a positive manner and for students, faculty, and staff to report any concerns."
District 209 maintains a tips hotline at each of its schools as an avenue for students, parents, staff, and community members to anonymously send in information on an incident such as a planned fight or other safety issue on which they have information. They are the following:
- Proviso East Tips Hotline: 708-202-1731
- Proviso West Tips Hotline: 708-202-6351
- PMSA Tips Hotline: 708-338-4188