School districts throughout the region last week began rolling out a new state tool aimed at identifying and reporting potential threats of violence.
Operated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, “Safe 2 Say Something” includes a 24-hour tipline, website and app that allows students, teachers, parents and community members to anonymously report threats of violence and other problems that could pose a danger in school.
The idea of the system is to help identify at-risk individuals and intervene before they hurt themselves or others, according to state promotional materials. Tips will be reviewed by workers at a Harrisburg crisis center, who will then contact law enforcement or school administrators – depending on the nature and urgency of the tip – to deal with any potential threat.
In addition to creating awareness of the program, school districts are required to assemble a trained crisis team to handle all tips received through the tipline.
Local school officials lauded the program as another tool at their disposal to help create a safe learning environment for students and staff. For the last few weeks, they’ve been sending letters home to parents, updating their websites and spreading the word via social media that the program is available. Middle school and high school students have been taught how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially on social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others.
“We want to support the efforts of the attorney general’s office, and at the same time, ensure our families are aware of the system,” said Central Bucks School District Superintendent John J. Kopicki.
Palisades School District Superintendent Bridget O’Connell said school safety must involve community-wide programs such as Safe 2 Say Something.
“Most conversations are taking place on social media, therefore it is critical that we teach our students to be looking out for one another as these digital conversations are taking place,” she said. “S2SS teaches them what to look for in text, video and photos while empowering them to act quickly to help a fellow student.
“Our students often are aware of the problems their peers are facing, so we must empower them to know the danger signs and give them the tools to help each other with the assistance of trained and caring adults,” she added.
Quakertown Community School District Superintendent William Harner said the district has met all of the state requirements established in the Safe2Say Something legislation.
“Safety is always at the forefront of what we do,” Dr. Harner said.
Troy Price, the Pennridge School District’s director of administration, said Safe 2 Say Something is an import addition in helping the district “creating and sustain a comprehensive, coordinated effort to improve the overall safety and well-being of our students and staff.”
“It is the Pennridge School District’s core belief that students’ physical and social-emotional safety are primary responsibilities,” he said. “It is our sincere hope that the S2SS system will aid students in the importance of recognizing and reporting warning signs.”
The Safe2Say Something Anonymous Reporting System will be operated by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise, a national violence prevention organization led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.