THE internet can be a dangerous place.
So now a Portsmouth firm has designed a piece of software to put a stop to cyber-bullying in schools.
Integritie, which has its headquarters at Lakeside in North Harbour, has made software that diverts potentially harmful messages on Twitter or Facebook and sends a warning to schools and parents.
It could be used to tackle different forms of bullying, whether a young person feeling depressed and needing support or someone who is a victim of sexual exploitation.
King Richard School in Paulsgrove has been testing the software.
Student Beth Reynolds, 15, is in Year 11. She said: ‘It’s an amazing piece of software. It’s hard to tackle cyber bullying.
‘This tells you what’s going on and who is saying bad stuff. It’s going to contribute towards stopping cyber bullying.
‘People are scared to talk out. But once it’s out of their control, someone else can look out for them.’
Liam King, 16, also in Year 11 added: ‘It’s so useful for every single person. It gives you that added protection that nothing else can.’
Schools and universities across the United States are also using the software. It’s predicted that around a million people are being protected through it.
The software picks out potentially offensive or harmful words and stops the messages from being sent to their intended target. A parent or member of staff at school is then informed about the message.
Stef Nienaltowski is the chief operating officer for Integritie.
He said: ‘It enables you to build a ring of protection around the individual.
‘It diverts incoming hate and offensive tweets. It allows us to be that iron glove that stops people being affected by it.
‘We hope one day it will start to eradicate the issue.’
Deputy headteacher at King Richard School Peter Newton said: ‘It’s important that students realise that the school has a duty of care.
‘What this piece of software allows us to do is effectively provide an umbrella and the students know they are sheltered by that umbrella.
‘This umbrella offers that security and allows them to know that we are watching and that we care.’