Schools take Safe2Say seriously
By Jarrad Hedes
Pennsylvania’s Safe2Say Something anonymous reporting system has generated more than 100,000 tips since its 2018-19 launch.
By using the mobile phone app, submitting a tip online, or calling 1-844-SAF2SAY, anyone can report a potential issue, which most often fall in the categories of bullying/cyber bullying, smoking in school and suicide ideation.
The tip line is operated and monitored 24/7 by the Office of the Attorney General where tips are reviewed, classified, and forwarded to the impacted school district. Each school district designates individuals who receive the tips.
The state produces an annual report with overall statistics. The program led to 26,174 tips across Pennsylvania in the 2021-22 school year, up from 15,679 the year before. Data in the 2020-21 school year shows 20.3 percent of all Safe2Say comments statewide were designated “life safety” matters, an increase from 15.7 percent in the 2019-20 school year.
Of comments related to mental health that were received, the top categories in 2020-21 school year were:
•Bullying and cyber bullying (32%)
•Suicidal thoughts (30%)
•Cutting, self-harm (20%)
•Depression and anxiety (12%)
• Anger issues (2%)
Though life safety matters are increasing statewide, local districts aren’t necessarily seeing that trend.
As well as the program is working, the attorney general’s office reports a large number of false reports are also filed.
During the 2021-22 school year, the Safe2Say Something Program received a total of 1,053 tips designated as false reports or prank tips. Of those, 384 contained what seemed like credible information, yet were proven untrue upon investigation; or the information was provided with the intention to harm or disrupt.
Safe2Say was originally established as a way to address threats of violence in school districts, although Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said it has become much more than that.
Henry said many of the tips are not about threats of violence, but are mental health concerns. She is asking for around a 17 percent increase in the Safe2Say budget for 2023-24, including additional staff.