Interview article was published in the Yomiuri Newspaper

The Yomiuri Shimbun – [Face Sunday] Caitlin Puzzar, 29, developer of “kimino micata,” an app for  facilitating the easy grasp of children`s SOS calls

“How are you feeling now feel now?”

“Is there ever a time when you don’t enjoy your meals?”

We have developed an application called “kimino micata” to help educational institutions identify children’s SOS calls, such as bullying, domestic violence (DV), abandonment, and other forms of abuse. The app allows children to answer simple questions to detect the signs of any problems, and to determine the level of urgency. “We want to make schools a place where children can feel safe to speak up,” said Puzzar.

 In 2019, while working as an ALT (assistant language teacher) at elementary and junior high schools in Kumamoto City, Puzzar learned about the death of a 10-year-old girl in Chiba Prefecture due to abuse by her father. It was shocking to learn that the girl’s questionnaire, in which she had complained to the school about the treatment, had been passed directly to her father. How can we prevent “outing,” in which information is passed on to a third party without the consent of the child, and how can we protect the rights of children?

 The team came up with the idea of a system that could be viewed only by the response team and specific teachers, placing the highest priority on the child’s point of view. It is a “child-first” monitoring system that would reduce the burden on busy teachers, while at the same time allowing children to consult using the system with peace of mind. In 2022, she founded Guardian Inc. (Kyoto City) and is working to expand the business, which has about 4,000 registered elementary, junior high, and high school students in Kumamoto City.

 The app, which is designed to be “your ally – anytime, anywhere,” also has a function that allows children to designate a partner and send an SOS message. The response from schools has been positive. I hopes that children will always be happy,” he said, adding that he is also looking to expand the business overseas.

(Yukiho Takaichi, Osaka Economic Affairs Department)

  Caitlin Puzzar was born in Liverpool, England. She was raised in a family of police officers, including her grandfather and parents. She came to Japan after studying criminology and Japanese language at Keele University in the U.K., aiming to become a child protector herself. She is the president of Guardian, Inc.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun Online, June 23, 2024 – Posted with permission