13-year old Viraj Puri is doing more than just standing up to bullies. He’s developing a tool to help parents protect their kids and pressure schools to reform their policies. Puri’s invention is a heatmap that uses keywords from social media sites to identify pockets of bullying. The idea is that parents can use the data collected from social media keywords in conjunction with other measures of school quality to help select school districts in which to live. If this becomes a metric that parents use to choose where to send their kids to school, educators and government officials will have a stronger incentive to address issues of bullying, Puri says.
“This will put more focus on quality of life and get lawmakers to address this very important issue,” Puri said in a statement on the new heatmap.
The current heatmap is in a beta phase, using an analysis of between 500 and 7,000 tweets per hour, a relatively small number compared to the vast trove of posts out there. Puri is reaching out to social media sites to try to collect more data and is working with scientists to more intelligently analyze the posts, because not every mention of bullying in a post is necessarily indicative of actual bullying. But he’s already off to a promising start.