STATE—A new anonymous reporting system aimed at student safety launched last Monday.
Known as Safe2Say Something (S2SS), the program is a joint effort by the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization based in Newton, Connecticut formed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012.
The program was created by Act 44 of 2018 and mandates participation by all school districts in Pennsylvania.
The program website (www.safe2saypa.org) avers it is “...youth violence prevention program...” aiming to educate students, teachers and staff on ways to recognize early waring signs for threatening behaviors and report them through the anonymous system as a means of preventing future tragedies.
“If [students are] concerned about something that they know about or if they see something online, Facebook, whatever it is, they can make an anonymous tip...,” explained Dr. Matthew Barrett, Superintendent of the Western Wayne School District.
“It will go to a centralized location. They'll look to determine the severity of the potential threat and then they'll either notify the local authorities, 911 dispatch and/or the school district depending on the nature of it.”
Gregory Frigoletto, Superintendent for the Wayne Highlands School District, noted that student reception to the new system and some of the preliminary instructional procedures was attentive.
Frigoletto said, after having notified the student body of the new system, “I think the students listened to it appropriately because this is reality. The seriousness by which they took it is a good way to go.”
In preparation for the program launch, school officials from all districts met with local law enforcement, 911 Dispatch, and other crisis professionals to work out plans for implementation, explained Barrett.
According to the S2SS FAQs listed by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), as the system becomes fully integrated, the Sandy Hook Promise will train students at the middle-school level and higher (grades 5-12) for one hour via an interactive video.
Teacher and staff crisis teams of between three and five members per district are trained as part of this system to respond as needed, appropriately accessing the necessary agencies within the school to handle the matter.
Tips are reported through a mobile application (available on both Android and Apple platforms), through the Safe2Say website, and by a 24-hour hotline (1-844-723-2729).
Students and parents alike can submit tips through the anonymous system.
Tips deemed life-threatening will be directed to school crisis teams immediately. Non life-threatening tips are sent between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
While the potential for false reports exists, there are resources in place to investigate them as needed.
The FAQs page note in similar programs elsewhere in the nation, less than one half of one percent of tips are false reports.
Both the Western Wayne and Wayne Highlands school districts have similar systems in place to handle student crises, now adding S2SS to their repertoire.
“I think it will be a very valuable tool, however I think there will be some early kinks we'll have work out,” said Barrett. “But having another avenue for people to report anything they're concerned about I think is a good thing.”
Frigoletto stated, “We never want anybody to feel they have nowhere to turn...If [Safe2Say is] another way that students can be helped, we're on board.”
More information about the Safe2Say Something program is available online at www.safe2saypa.org.