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In our series Seeking Change, we are exploring the different ways people in our state our trying to help push along change in their communities.We'll hear from people who have a lot of support for their causes and people who are going it alone.We'll hear from folks in big cities and small towns; people who are making change for a few people or a few thousand.We will post a new Seeking Change segment here every Monday. Or you can hear them on-air during Morning Edition at 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m.

Trying to end bullying, one text at a time


Last week in our Seeking Change series we heard about the kindness journal, an effort to get kids to write about being kind. One of the effects was fewer incidents of bullying among the kids who took part.Today we’re going to talk about cyber bullying. Paul McMullen is a father and he’s come up with a smartphone app, called Parenting Pride, to help combat cyber bullying among kids. It records text messages, but also aims to respect a teen’s desire for privacy. Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with McMullen about how he hopes to decrease bullying.

This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

Paul McMullen took action against the rise in digital and cyber bullying in a way that young teens can understand; by using the same electronics that are sometimes used to bully. 

McMullen has created an app for smart phones, called Parenting Pride, to help combat cyber bullying among kids. It records text messages, but also aims to respect a teen’s desire for privacy.

He said there is a common misconception that cellphone companies hold on to all texts, archiving them and keeping them in some virtual vault. 

“They cannot archive the content of a text message for more than three to five days, unless they are served with a subpoena,” McMullen said. 

The Parenting Pride app will provide the teen to archive all texts, no matter how old, the teen can show the parents past texts. 

“What this app does is it provides a record of text messages over a phone to a secure website,” McMullen said.  “It is for younger children that are establishing the proper conduct through text messaging and it is for older children to archive on their own to invite their parents in.”

This app will fight against the insecurity and fear that some teens face because of cyber and text bullying. 

 “[Texting] provides the bullies 24 hours, seven days a week access to their victims,” McMullen said. “And there is this sense of loss of control as it relates to a vicious rumor, an insult being disseminated over cyber networks at the speed of light.”

Although the app will probably be initiated by parents, McMullen said, he believes that teens will show their parents the texts if they believe bullying is getting out of control.

- By Thea Card

Christina began her career in radio at Michigan Radio while a student at the University of Michigan. She was a producer and researcher for The Todd Mundt Show, and then hosted Weekend Edition.