Anti-Bullying App Gets Microloan Boost

The current edition of BizVoice® magazine includes a story about the Madison County Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), an after-school program for students in grades six to 12 that helps students learn how to brainstorm ideas for companies, present those companies to an investor panel and secure funding for their ideas.

As part of the YEA program, Pendleton Heights High School junior Brandon Boynton created an anti-bullying app called The Bully Box, which is marketed to schools and allows students to report acts of bullying anonymously, while allowing the school district to collect bullying data to help comply with anti-bullying laws and protect students.

Boynton’s app won the local contest held through the Madison County YEA program, as well as the regional contest in Boca Raton, Florida. He placed in the top six of a national competition at America’s Small Business Summit in Washington D.C. in June.

According to a press release from the Flagship Microloan Program, the app has also caught the attention of the microloan organization, which provides small loans of between $1,000 and $5,000 to businesses in a 10-county region of East Central Indiana. The program announced it will make a working capital loan to Most Beastly Studios, which produces The Bully Box app. The Flagship Enterprise Center, a technology incubator in Anderson, is a sponsor of the Madison County YEA program and is a partnership between the City of Anderson and Anderson University.

To raise additional capital for the app, Boynton is running a campaign via crowdfunding site IndieGoGo. His goal is to raise $25,000 by Sept. 24.

Also in Boynton’s toolbox is The Curfew Buddy – keeping parents and children connected quickly about where children are and when they’ll return home.

Kudos to this young Hoosier entrepreneur and the Madison County YEA program for giving Boynton and other enterprising students the experience and opportunity to change the world through their innovative products, services and ideas.

We Can’t Banish Bullying, but We Can Take a Stand

Stories about schoolyard bullying are rampant, but you haven’t heard this one … because it’s mine.

Picture day’s end at a middle school. My nephew had barely started his walk home when another student – one who relentlessly targeted him day after day – grabbed him around the neck and threw him on the ground.

Their classmates saw the incident … but did nothing.

Parents – waiting in a long line of cars to pick up their children – did nothing. No one asked my nephew if he was OK. No one reprimanded the bully. No one reported the incident to a school employee. How do I feel about their inaction? Repulsed.

I hate to sound sanctimonious, but I’m fired up about this topic.

I’m especially disappointed in the parents. Maybe they sympathized with my nephew, but assumed someone else would step in. Or maybe – because it wasn’t their child – they simply didn’t care. Heartbreaking.

Self-esteem and safety are at risk. Fortunately, we are a loving family, which helps provide a barrier (though not impenetrable) against hurtful behavior. But what about kids who are neglected or bullied at home? Who looks out for them?

Here’s the thing: Bullies come from various backgrounds. They may be victims themselves, so they lash out. Others have outstanding families. And some are enabled by parents who adopt a “kids will be kids” or “my child would never do that” mentality.

Talk to your own children about bullying. Don’t have kids? Talk to young relatives. Don’t assume that they aren’t experiencing it (as instigator or victim). Build their self-worth and emphasize that you’re in their corner. And if you see someone being mistreated, speak up.

Ask yourself this question: What would you have done if you were sitting in the car at my nephew’s middle school that day?

Sound Off on Pet Peeves

Most of the time, I’m Ms. Positivity. As my dad says, “It’s better to be an optimist who is sometimes wrong than a pessimist who is always right.” That said, I’m feeling a bit surly today and want to share a few things that – put simply – annoy the heck out of me. Here goes:

  • Schoolyard bullies and the lack of consequences (in many cases) for their cruel behavior
  • Smiling at a stranger in passing and receiving an empty stare in return (come on people, is it really that hard?)
  • Arriving at a restaurant that’s nearly empty and – as my stomach growls – watching multiple customers who arrive significantly later being served first
  • People who assume baristas should automatically know their coffee preferences
  • Parents who are unduly short-tempered with their kids at the grocery store (children grow up fast; enjoy them while you can!)
  • Happily plopping down on the couch to watch a show I have “DVRd” and realizing that, because a football or basketball game has gone into overtime, only part of the episode was recorded (Nooooo!)
  • Rude customers during the holiday season
  • Coaches who berate young kids for losing games rather than providing a fun, supportive learning environment (way to be a role model)
  • Buyer’s remorse (did I really need that $15 lunch?)
  • The phrase, “I could care less.” Repeat after me: “I couldn’t care less.”

What ruffles your feathers? I hate that expression. Just kidding!