Anonymous hotline allows teens to report bullying

An anonymous hotline that lets teens alert school counselors about bad behavior is expanding in Huntsville schools.

Middle school and high school students can use the hotline to report cases of bullying or illegal activity under complete anonymity.

Paige Stephenson organizes the volunteer-based service. She such a resource is needed among teens today.

"I think kids are scared to go up to an adult and say things; they might be a snitch I guess to their friends," Stephenson said.

Stephenson is expanding Hunter's Hotline after her mother first suggested idea. It's named after Stephenson's brother, Hunter, who died of a prescription pill overdose seven years ago.

"Through that, the hotline was developed to prevent things like that and if it saves one person's life, it's all worth it," she said.

Callers are directed to a voicemail where students can leave a message. If they feel uncomfortable leaving a voicemail, they can send a text instead. Stephenson said trusted school counselors will listen to the message and investigate situations from there.

The idea is gaining momentum. Five schools are now offering the hotline in Huntsville. They include Huntsville High School, Hampton Cove Middle School, Holy Spirit, Grissom High School, and Huntsville Middle School.

"If someone was doing drugs or something illegal, or bullying, even something small that could be reported an fixed, I would use it," said Caroline Chisler, a 9th grader at Huntsville High.

But a counselor who works with at-risk teens, said there's a chance such a hotline could be abused.

"It could benefit them but there are a lot of teens in extreme situations to know the system very well and like to use the system to manipulate in a lot of situations," said Beverly Neeley.

Stephenson said the demand is there, considering the number of calls she said she receives.

"From day one, the kids have started to use it and really it makes me feel good that it is working very well," she said.

The hotline numbers for each school are as follows: Huntsville High School: 256-536-4915. Hampton Cove Middle School: 256-668-8595. Holy Spirit: 256-472-1848. Grissom High School: 256-602-1855. Huntsville Middle School: 256-669-0449.

Copyright 2012 WAFF.  All rights reserved.