They say that what we experience in life determines who we become later on. But for T. Gregory Bender of Harrison, his experience determined not only his future but may well positively influence the futures of many others—including some who may not have had one otherwise.
“I know what it’s like to be the victim of bullying. It happened to me in the fourth and fifth grades,” recalls Bender, who grew up in Bronxville. “During that time, I lived every day in fear—and that fear accompanied me wherever I went and whatever I did. It was a very traumatic time for me.”
An intelligent kid, Greg Bender started programming computers in the seventh grade. The combination of that earlier childhood trauma and his talent for programming coalesced in adulthood, and, in 2012, resulted in Anonymous Alerts, a White Plains company whose eponymous mobile app is making a difference in the lives of kids nationwide.
In the time it takes for just a couple of mobile-app clicks, a notification—with pictures, a screenshot, or video if desired—can be sent to an authority figure about an instance of violence or bullying directed toward you or someone else. The app allows the user to categorize the type of incident, its location, provide a brief description, and select a recipient from a customized contact list of their choosing. A contact-info option allows the person reporting the incident to either identify him- or herself or remain anonymous.
The app debuted in the Dobbs Ferry school district in February 2013 and has since been adopted by school systems in Croton-on-Hudson, Somers, North Salem, and Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, as well as Greenwich High School and Newtown Public Schools in Connecticut. Even the Cleveland Metro school system in Ohio and the Toronto Catholic District School Board in Canada are sanctioning the app for their students.
Available on both major smart-device platforms, Anonymous Alerts may be downloaded free from the Apple Store, Google Play store, and Chrome store, or on the website of any participating school system.