Sandy Hook Promise, a violence prevention program founded by families who lost their children in the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., launched an anonymous reporting system this week that schools can use to collect and track student tips about possible concerning behavior. The aim: Stop the next school shooting before it starts.
The Say Something anonymous reporting system will allow students to submit tips about troubling behavior—including assault, bullying, animal cruelty, and child abuse—through a website, telephone hotline, or mobile app.
It comes at a time when school safety experts are increasingly emphasizing prevention and early intervention in school safety efforts.
Operators at a 24-hour crisis center will triage the tips, referring them to participating school districts and, as needed, to law enforcement agencies.
Districts, charter schools, and independent schools can opt-in to the program for free.
The PepsiCo Foundation plans to fund an initial rollout of the reporting system in a group of states that are most “at-risk states for gun violence"— California, Florida, Texas and New York— Sandy Hook Promise said in a news release.
Federal reviews of mass shooting incidents have found that a majority of shooters “leak” their intentions beforehand, telling at least one friend or family member. That’s why many states and districts have stood up anonymous reporting systems. Perhaps the most established tipline is Colorado’s Safe2Tell, which was founded after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and has been credited with thwarting several shooting plans and other safety concerns, like suicide attempts.
Sandy Hook Promise announced the Say Something reporting system with a powerful advertisement.
“Most people think that you know, a school shooting could never happen here,” says a teen boy in the video, the camera close up on his face. “But those same people are the ones who saw all of the signs and never said anything.”
The camera pans out and shows that the boy is sitting on a bed, loading a magazine into an AR-15 rifle.
“I’m sure tomorrow, someone will wish they had said something.”
Sandy Hook Promise also helped conceive of and press for passage of the STOP School Violence Act, which was included in the federal spending bill President Donald Trump signed into law Friday. That bill, which was also supported by families of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., provides funding for school safety efforts, security hardware, school police, and anonymous threat reporting systems.
The Parkland shooting has brought fresh attention to potential missed warning signs of school violence. Local law enforcement was called to the accused shooter’s home dozens of times in recent years, and the FBI has confirmed it failed to investigate a recent tip that he could be “a school shooter in the making.”
The state has formed a task force with subpoena power to explore how the shooting happened and whether law enforcement and educators missed opportunities to intervene.
Related reading on school violence prevention:
- Thwarted School Shooting Plans Don’t Get Much Attention. Here’s How That Affects School Safety Debates.
- School Shootings: Five Critical Questions
- Complete Coverage of the Parkland School Shooting
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.