Cell phone app warns parents about bullying

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by GARY REAVES

WFAA

Posted on November 1, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 2 at 1:44 PM

COLLEYVILLE — As a budding cheerleader, 11-year-old Alexa Juele wears a smile like it's part of her uniform.. But that glow quickly fades when she remembers the girl who bullied her.

"When the school year came around, I didn't want to go; I was pretty much afraid of her," Alexa said.

Her mother, Justine Juele, might never have known about it until she got a message on her cell phone.

"This says WebSafety picked up on a message sent to your child that contained possible cyber-bullying text," Juele said. "I was offended by it; I was offended for her, and I took it very seriously once I read the things being said."

Juele is an early adopter of the new WebSafety software application. Once it's loaded onto a child's cell phone, its 11,000-phrase database scans all incoming messages for words that indicate bullying, sexting, suicide and more.

"We have like 'You're fat,' 'You're ugly,' 'You should die,' 'I have a gun' ... there is language in there for drugs as well," said WebSafety CEO Travis Bond. "It's pretty extensive."

The phone app was all cooked up in an Irving office building that serves as the headquarters of WebSafety. For $10 a month per phone, Juele calls it a cheap insurance policy.

"I don't know how I ever lived without it," she said. "It helps when they are on the computer or the Internet."

With a single e-mail to another parent, she defused the situation involving her daughter.

"The girl she stopped bullying me, and we're like really good friends now," Alexa said.

Juele credits this app for letting her daughter be a kid again.

WebSafety offers its software for BlackBerry, Android and Nokia Symbian cell phones, but it is not currently available for iPhone users. The company offers a companion product for desktop computers that scans e-mail, messaging services and Web sites.

E-mail greaves@wfaa.com

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