If the school official needs more information, he or she can text back to the student.

Students are getting a new weapon to fight back against bullies: their cell phones.

A leading ed-tech company on May 29 announced it would give schools a free and confidential way for students to tell school officials via text that they are being bullied or are witnessing bullying. Blackboard’s TipTxt program could change the school climate—or reveal just how pervasive student-on-student harassment has become.

“Kids have cell phones. They have mobile devices,” said Blackboard chief executive officer Jay Bhatt, whose 9-year-old daughter is already sending digital messages to her friends. “They’re constantly interacting with their mobile devices.”

Blackboard, which provides products to more than half of the nation’s schools, will offer the service for free starting immediately. Texts sent through the confidential program will be routed to school officials, who then will determine how to investigate.

(Next page: More information about the free service)