By: Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire
As the school year is progressively coming along and as we approach the beginning of the holiday seasons, life can get hectic for many of us. During this crazy time of the year does anyone stop and consider the safety of our kids and the resources available to help them handle difficult or dangerous situations at school?
Safe2Say Something is a life-saving and life-changing school safety program used in every school in Pennsylvania. The program allows kids to easily and anonymously report tips or safety concerns to help prevent violence and tragedies. The program was created and implemented in January of 2019 after the General Assembly passed Act 44, which mandated the Office of Attorney General to establish the anonymous reporting system and required every Pennsylvania school entity to participate in the program. The Office of the Attorney General in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise created the Safe2Say Something app, website, and 24/7 crisis center. The program teaches kids how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, of individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to say something, using the anonymous reporting system, before it is too late.
Each year in schools and communities across the United States there are millions of kids who hurt themselves or others through verbal, physical and digital means. These behaviors often cause emotional trauma, physical injury, mental health issues, stress and anxiety. Too often these kids feel they have no other options and they turn to self-harm, suicide or homicide. In most cases, adults are unaware of the severity of the situation, but more often than not, the peers of a child in crisis are aware of the situation. Some kids planning suicide or homicide even confide in a friend, schoolmate or sibling.
- 80% of school shooters told someone of their planned attack and 59% told more than one person.
- 70% of people who complete suicide told someone of their plans and gave some other warning sign.
- Of those individuals who had prior knowledge, 93% were peers of the perpetrators – friends, schoolmates, or siblings.
Getting kids with concerns about themselves or their peers to come forward is vital to preventing violence and keeping kids safe. The Safe2Say program opens the lines of communication by giving kids a convenient and confidential way to share their concerns and providing an immediate response so that a child can get help and a crisis situation can be avoided.
- Kids can reach out for help (through the app, website, or phone call) without putting themselves on the line because the tip can be placed anonymously.
- The crisis center immediately reviews, assesses and processes all submissions, categorizing each tip as either “Life Safety” or “Non-Life Safety” and then sends them to school administration and/or law enforcement for intervention.
- If additional information is needed, the tipster may be contacted anonymously through the app but you do not need to share your name or phone number or any identifying information and no one ever has to know who submitted the tip.
Kids are encouraged to submit a tip about anything that makes them uncomfortable. This can be a report of someone who you may believe is having suicidal thoughts, someone being abused at home, someone being bullied, someone doing drugs or even someone you think is planning an attack on the school. In the first 5 months Safe2Say Something received over 23,000 tips. While over 1,000 of the tips received were threats against schools or individuals, the majority of tips have been focused on students struggling with mental health issues. The top four categories of tips received have been about bullying/cyber bullying, cutting/self-harm, suicide/suicide ideation and depression/anxiety.
School can be very overwhelming and a stressful time for some kids. So, as we all get ready for the holiday seasons, between the shopping and the holiday wish lists, remind them about the Safe2Say Something program and the importance of submitting a tip if they think someone is a threat to themselves or others. For more information visit https://www.safe2saypa.org
The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur. To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit www.dioriosereni.com or contact Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected]
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