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RESQL App Developed at SWPS University Prevents Violence in Schools

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RESQL App Developed at SWPS University Prevents Violence in Schools

Close to 50 percent of middle and secondary school students admit to having been bullied or harassed at school. Studies indicate that physical aggression and psychological bullying are not uncommon among teenagers. Although awareness of this problem has been growing, the issue is not going away. A team of researchers from SWPS University, in cooperation with SPEEDNET, a software company, researched the factors conducive to the perpetuation of violence in schools and developed a mobile RESQL application that helps to deal with the problem.

Violence in Schools

Globally, at least one in three teens between the ages of 13 and 15 have experienced bullying. In Poland, almost half of all school-age students admit to having been a victim of violence, at least once within the last few months. The situation is difficult because the victims usually are reluctant to talk about their painful experiences. Moreover, psychological support in schools is very limited, and children who experience violence are often unable to cope with the problem on their own.

“Several years ago, it was easier to find a safe harbor. It was sufficient to leave school and close the door behind one’s back. Nowadays, it is much harder to dissociate oneself from everything, because huge parts of teen life take place on social media,” says Dr. Radosław Kaczan, psychologist from SWPS University in Warsaw, Head of the RESQL project.

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According to data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), violence in schools is a global phenomenon, which indicates that it is difficult to prevent it or eliminate it without a concerted effort.

Only 20 percent of teenagers between 14 and 18 years of age, report acts of violence or bullying, which they witness or experience themselves. Many schools do not have a culture of reporting these kinds of problems. Individuals that do report incidents may be ostracized and labelled “informants”, “snitches” or “rats”. Another reason for not reporting acts of violence is a lack of clear and safe procedures.

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RESQL is Cool

Researchers from SWPS University studied the problem of violence in Polish schools, analyzed students’ needs and concerns and they developed a solution. They created the RESQL mobile application that not only enables students to easily report acts of violence, and subsequently trigger a violence preventing procedure, but also provides teachers with helpful materials such as lesson scripts on psychological determinants of violence. The materials have been tested by psychologists and educators from SWPS University in primary and secondary schools in Poland.

“We have been researching different children and teen related problems for many years. While developing the app, we were working with middle school children, high school students, and teachers. We diagnosed their needs and concerns. While talking to them, we realized that incident reporting must be anonymous. We have also come to understand the power of witnesses – they do react to acts of bullying, if they know what do to. We also found out why students do not report acts of violence committed by their peers and what was required to change that. Throughout the project, we engaged many teams of teenagers. All this work resulted in developing the RESQL system, which meets the real needs of people,” says Dr. Małgorzata Wójcik, psychologist from SWPS University in Katowice, the Chief Expert on Teen Violence in the RESQL team.

RESQL – How Does It Work?

RESQL is a mobile app enabling students to anonymously report acts of violence directly to the teaching staff. The application also includes the so-called “intervention package” for teachers, containing information on how to react to certain situations, make decisions and undertake appropriate actions once an incident has been reported. “The system has been designed to allow students to anonymously report acts of violence that they witnessed or experienced themselves. Students communicate with teachers via the application, so they do not have to worry that someone will see them talking to teachers,” says Piotr Grodzki, the CEO of SPEEDNET, a software development company, responsible for the creation, development and maintenance of the application.

Students can report any type of incident – there are no restrictions. RESQL facilitates the collection and categorization of reports and helps appropriately deal with the occurring situations. It also encourages students to do the right thing by removing the barrier – the fear of talking directly to teachers – that otherwise might have prevented them from reporting bullying incidents.

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“If the reports are taken seriously by the school, and the problem situations are resolved, students’ motivation for reporting acts of violence should increase,” says Dr. Radosław Kaczan.

The RESQL process is very simple. Students witnessing an incident select the violence category in the application and report it via the app. Providing personal information is optional and voluntary – students have an option of submitting their names or class number, if they wish to do so. The report goes to a designated teacher (intervener), who analyzes the problem, together with other educators, and undertakes appropriate action. Each intervener has access to the intervener’s panel, where all incoming reports and other related information is collected. The application enables the school authorities to monitor violence in their school, generate reports, and analyze the occurring problems together with the teachers council.

 

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Don’t be a Bystander! Take Action!

Many people believe that peer bullying and violence are part and parcel of growing up, and that tough situations teach children how to deal with problems later in life. Unfortunately, it usually brings the opposite effect. Children who have experienced violence are more prone to engaging in risky behaviors, suffering from depression, and even attempting suicide, than their peers.

“If acts of violence are not dealt with, perpetrators think that they can continue their tactics unpunished, while bystanders assume that they do not need to react. It is important to remember that to prevent violence, we cannot ignore it and we must act. Violence is not an integral part of growing up and no children should experience it. Let’s teach our children to be sensitive and vigilant about acts of violence and not be afraid to talk about it. It is crucial behavior in preventing bullying,” explains Dr. Radosław Kaczan.

RESQL may be a breakthrough in preventing peer violence in schools. It has already been named best social innovation and won the Grand Prix at the 2020 INTARG competition.

More about RESQL »

For more information about the RESQL app, please get in touch.

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