Bullying has become a prevalent issue in schools throughout the nation, and Fairmont Anaheim Hills 4th grader Rayva S. is doing what she can to help minimize it as much as possible.
Rayva knows firsthand what it’s like to be the victim of bullying — she was only in kindergarten when she was pushed off benches and was hurt by some of her peers. At first, she was reluctant to say anything to anyone about the consistent bullying but then finally talked to her mom about it.
Because of her experiences, Rayva decided she wanted to be active in the fight against bullying and created an anti-bullying app to help others who find themselves in similar situations as she was.
“I think kids should know when not to be afraid and that they can tell adults,” she said.
The app, called Bully Free, allows children and their parents to track, monitor, and report bullying incidents that the students experience while at school. It provides an outlet for parents and their children to communicate about the moods and emotions the students experience each day. For instance, if a child feels sad, he or she can select the sad face to represent the current mood, and the parent can then make comments and ask questions as to why the student feels sad. Over time, the parent is able to see if the child is consistently having sad emotions, what’s causing the moods, whether or not actual bullying is present, and how often any potential bullying is occurring.
When Rayva told her 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Amanda Cooper, about the app last year, Cooper looked into it and was immediately impressed and eager to share it with parents and administrators.
“It’s amazing and is a great communication tool,” she said. “It’s very simple and [provides] the communication that’s needed between parents and their children. I think it’s important for people to recognize what bullying is, so those anti-bullying initiatives are a great start here because if you’re a bully as a little kid, and nobody does anything about it, you become a grown-up bully, and we don’t want that. So an app like this — especially when kids have to write when they’ve been bullied or feel sad — opens up the lines of communication.”
Rayva’s father, TJ, has a career in tech app development and was able to help his daughter create Bully Free. Rayva drew out what the screens should look like, and TJ then guided her through the process. While the intent of the app is to help others in situations of bullying, TJ was proud of his daughter and was happy to see her work so hard to accomplish something. Rayva, too, takes pride in her achievement and hopes it will influence others.
“It feels pretty amazing because I know that people can relate to me,” she said. “Hopefully they can do the same thing and feel the same way I did — they can feel accomplished, too.”
TJ also sees that his daughter is quick to step into the role of a leader, something with which Cooper quickly agreed. And that’s a role Rayva said she truly enjoys.
“Then I can show other kids that it’s OK to be a leader, too,” she said.
You can download Bully Free to your iPhone or iPad in the app store.