PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Thousands of students across the state are going back to school this week, and one of the big concerns for parents is the possibility that their child could become the target of bullies?

Arizona State University graduate student Selena Quiroz remembers the name calling and hurtful things said online back when she was in middle school.

"There's certain comments that will stick with you your whole life," said Quiroz. "I still remember certain things that people would say."

Cyberbullying is a serious problem, especially for teenagers targeted because of how they look, their race, sexual orientation, and the list goes on.

An ASU research team of comprised of faculty and students has created a way to detect cyberbullying on social media.

[WATCH: How BullyBlocker works]

Their BullyBlocker app can now follow a teenager's social media presence  and let parents know the likelihood that their kid is the target of a cyberbully.

[RELATED: ASU's 'BullyBlocker' offers parents free cyberbullying detection on the App Store]

"It identifies the specific phrases or keywords to detect any harassing or any insulting content," explained Yasin Silva, who heads up the ASU BullyBlocker team. 

Deborah Hall, an associate psychology professors, said their algorithm uses profile information and known risk factors to give each user a bully number, or bully rank, from zero to 100.

If the app detects a lot of mean and hateful comments, the number goes up and lets parents know it might be time to step in and talk to their kids or seek professional help.

"The goal here is to really give parents information about changes and increases in cyberbullying risk at a stage that would be early enough for them to meaningfully intervene, and hopefully prevent some of these kinds of tragic outcomes."

Silva said the technology to detect cyberbullying only works on Facebook right now, but the Bully Blocker team is hoping to expand to Instagram.

The BullyBlocker app will be available to the public later this year.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 


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