Two apps, available early next year, are intended to help prevent sexual assault and abuse, especially on college campuses. They won Vice President Biden's 'Apps Against Abuse' technology challenge.
Young people concerned about sexual assault will soon have some technological tools that may help.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joseph Biden announced the winners of the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge that he launched in July with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in an effort to harness mobile technology to fight sexual abuse.
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“Kids need to be able to communicate through the devices they actually use,” said Vice President Biden in announcing the winners on a conference call with college and university officials, in which he discussed a range of measures that campuses can take to help prevent sexual abuse. “A young woman with this app could use the app to send a message, with her location, to family, friends, or the campus police.”
Both apps will be available for free early next year.
Circle of 6 asks users to add five contacts to their “circle.” In a threatening or difficult situation, they can tap on an icon to instantly take various steps –either send a message to all five contacts asking them to come get them, to call them, to ask for advice, or to automatically call the Love is Not Abuse hot line.
OnWatch similarly has users set up a list of “anytime, anywhere, any reason” friends. In one mode, a user can write an advance message (“I’ll be partying at XYZ fraternity, I may be in trouble, call me and then call campus security,” for instance), set a timer, and either cancel the message if everything is fine or have it go out when the timer elapses. It also has a “panic” button that the user can hit that both calls 911 and sends a text message and an e-mail to those pre-set contacts. Those messages include GPS coordinates of the sender's locale and a note that the person may be in danger. Other features allow for easy check-in with contacts, or for immediate calls to campus security or 911.