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Have You Heard of Yik Yak, a 'Vicious' App Used by Students?

Yik Yak lets users send anonymous text messages to others in the vicinity. It's being used to verbally abuse students and staff in at least one area school.

An app called Yik Yak is being used to verbally abuse students and faculty at Lake Forest High School, the principal warned parents in an email Wednesday evening. Other schools around the country have had similar problems.

The app lets you send an anonymous text message to other phones within a given location. Lake Forest High School has banned Yik Yak from its network, but students are still able to access it via their own cellular network, the email says.

TechCrunch
reported last month that Yik Yak already had 100,000 users. The article explains that Yik Yak users can share their message with different numbers of people in the vicinity by paying slightly higher amounts of money. They can reach the maximum 10,000 phones for $5.

Have you heard of Yik Yak? Do you worry that it's being used by students here?

The following is the email that was sent to the Lake Forest High School community Wednesday evening:

Dear Parents:

I am writing to inform you of a mobile app that is harmful to students and to the positive school culture of Lake Forest High School. I am also writing to ask your support in addressing this serious issue. One of the hallmarks of Lake Forest High School is our supportive environment and our commitment to the well-being of one another. Collectively, we have an opportunity and responsibility to ensure to maintain our positive school climate.

The app is called Yik Yak. It allows individuals to send text messages anonymously. These messages are received by all of the anonymous users in a given location, such as our school. Sadly, we have found that this app is allowing students to verbally abuse each other as well as faculty and staff at LFHS.

Here are some facts that you should be aware of:

  • This has become a problem at other schools across the country.

           http://wtnh.com/2014/02/27/new-app-leading-bullying-among-teens/  

           http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=322427  

  • Posts can be especially vicious and hurtful since there is no way to trace their source and it can be disseminated widely.   
  • At the school level, we have blocked access to the app on our network. Nonetheless, students can still access the app through their cellular network.  
  • As a school policy, we are prohibiting Yik Yak and will continue to enforce our current technology code of conduct.  
  • We are working with our legal counsel and the local authorities to see what recourse we have against individuals who have posted items that are harmful to individuals and disruptive to our school setting.  
  • Accessing the app on their phone, despite not making comments, is creating an audience for bullying behavior.  
  • Student services (deans, social workers, school psychologists and counselors) are available for support and guidance.

A significant way that we can deal with the app is to promote digital citizenship at home and at school. This is a learning opportunity for students on how their behavior and the choices that they make can impact others and their own future in a digital world. Our faculty and Student Council will be addressing this issue at school. We ask that you have a meaningful conversation with your son/daughter. We also recommend deleting the Yik Yak app and reviewing the apps on your child's phone. Together, we can continue to make Lake Forest High School a safe place for students to live and learn.

Sincerely,

Barry Rodgers

Principal

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