School Climate & Safety

Colorado School Safety Tip Line Seeks to Expand Nationwide

By Evie Blad — November 17, 2015 1 min read
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A Colorado-based anonymous school violence tip line credited with stopping numerous planned attacks is seeking to expand its model to other states, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

I wrote about the tip line, known as Safe2Tell, and similar efforts in other states in 2014, when Safe2Tell ceased operating as an independent non-profit organization and was folded into the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

The tip line, developed after the 1999 shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School, follows best practices for crime reporting systems: Reports are anonymous and quickly handled, and law enforcement and operators are trained in how to quickly cooperate to investigate threats. From the Gazette:

“The program, which started in 2004 in Colorado Springs and is now statewide, has intervened with 2,641 youth who were contemplating suicide, prevented 412 planned attacks and addressed 3,601 cases of bullying, among thousands of other incidents. A mobile app launched Aug. 1 has bumped up reporting even more, with a 28 percent increase in the first month, said Safe2Tell founder and executive director Susan Payne. One-third of all tips now come from the mobile app, she said.”

Payne is working with Carly Posey, whose children were in Sandy Hook Elementary School during the 2012 shooting there, to seek funding and support to expand the Safe2Tell model to other states, the paper reports.

School safety experts say it’s important to give students an outlet for reporting concerns, and that they are more likely to share tips if they trust that adults will quickly and thoughtfully respond. From my story:

“A 2002 report by the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, prepared after the agency analyzed 37 school attacks that occurred between 1974 and 2000, concluded that attackers in 31 of those events had told at least one person about their plans beforehand. In 22 cases, two or more people knew about the planned attack in advance, the study concluded. In nearly all cases, those peers were classmates, siblings, and friends of the attackers, it said.”

Safe2Tell has stopped more than violent attacks. A tip to the hotline is credited withthe discovery of a sexting ring in Cañon City, Colo., that grabbed national headlines recently.

Related reading about school violence and safety:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.