APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — The new school year starts for many districts across the Green Bay area Sept. 1.
Just in time for the academic restart, the Appleton Area School District is taking new steps to address bullying and threats.
Anti-bullying experts say the most effective way to respond to bullying or threats is to speak up right away.
"Sometimes, it's very difficult for students to come forward for whatever reason," Appleton Area School District Assistant Superintendent Sheree Garvey said.
But now, the district has a new strategy for students to safely take action.
"We want our families and students to feel comfortable with a trusted adult in the building," Garvey said.
The district is launching a program called Speak Up, Speak Out.
It's a system where students, their families, and other residents can anonymously report tips to trained school staff.
"It allows us to respond to immediately if there's that elevated threat of anything," Garvey said.
Garvey says students can also submit tips concerning self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
"It's a reporting mechanism to speak up and speak out," Garvey said.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice started the program two years ago.
"It is available to every school community in the state of Wisconsin," Attorney General Josh Kaul said.
Kaul says in just the last year, about 1,000 people have reported a tip.
"We know from the cases where we've received information, that we are getting services to students," Kaul said.
And the best way for students to receive that help is if someone speaks up, and speaks out.
"We want to empower our students to take action," Garvey said.
Individuals can go to their app store on their smart phone and download the Speak Up, Speak Out app. People can also submit an anonymous tip online or by calling 1-800-MY-SUSO-1.