WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - A new social media app could be creating an anonymous outlet for bullying. The app is called Streetchat and we found out it's being used by students at least 50 high schools in our area.
We first heard about this app on Thursday when a concerned parent called saying it's being used as a weapon by bullies.
"It's a way for other kids to go anonymously and post nasty things about other children without having it traced back to them," said Emily, a parent of a child at Sullivan East.
She asked us not to use her last name because she didn't want her comments to be held against her child.
We decided to check out the app and discovered Streetchat describes itself on the Apple website as "a fast reliable way to share your thoughts, gossip and talk about things around you." The app was created by a group called Factyle.
When you download the app it asks you to pick from more than 50 high schools in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. We chose Science Hill and started scrolling through posts made by students at that school.
The posts weren't too bad at first and could even be considered nice, like one saying "hope everyone had a good day, hope tomorrow is better."
The further we scrolled through the posts, the worse they became. We saw a post claiming a boy cheated on his girlfriend and another showing a cartoon of someone being slapped in the face with a caption describing someone above it. Other comments were so sexually explicit we couldn't air them in our story.
Johnson City schools spokesperson Debra Bentley told us they're trying to keep students off of Streetchat.
"We consider this a social media tool just like Facebook and Twitter and those are blocked," said Bentley.
Even though the students can't get on through the school's Wi-Fi, they can still access it at Science Hill through their own data plans.
"That is a violation of the technology use policy for the students," said Bentley.
Bentley told us anyone who uses the app at school will have their phone confiscated.
She said any student who feels as though they are being bullied should tell a teacher immediately.
The school can't do anything when the students are home so Emily is asking other parents to keep a close eye on what their kids are posting.
"We need to know what our children are doing," said Emily. "We need to know not only if they're being the one being bullied but if they're the one doing the bullying as well.
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