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Safe2Tell, an anonymous way for students, parents, school staff and community members to report concerns regarding their safety or the safety of others, emerged as a needed resource in the aftermath of the deadly 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.
A statewide program is founded on the idea that prevention and early intervention is key to preventing violence and saving lives. Its goals are to educate young people and school staff on critical issues, encourage them to play a role in prevention and equip them with a tangible direct way to report anonymously.
Research from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education shows that in 81 percent of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker knew it was going to happen but failed to report it.
To penetrate this code of silence, Safe2Tell Colorado initially was founded as a nonprofit organization, incorporated to develop a statewide anonymous reporting tool available 24 hours a day to accept reports whenever a Colorado youth or concerned adult perceived a threat to their safety or the safety of others.
In 2014, the Colorado General Assembly adopted Senate Bill 2014-002 incorporating Safe2Tell under the Colorado Office of the Attorney General, providing funding for reporting avenues such as phone, web and mobile app, trainings and education and awareness efforts.
“Safe2Tell is all about empowerment and telling,” said John McDonald, executive director of security and emergency management for Jefferson County Public Schools.
He also called it a civics lesson in being a good member of the community.
Reports from the anonymous tip program go to principals, law enforcement and school dispatch centers and they respond as a trifecta.
During the 2016-17 school year, Safe2Tell received 9,163 reports statewide, a 58 percent increase from the previous year. The top five tips were about suicide threats, bullying, drugs, cutting and depression.
Threats and planned school attacks came in at the top sixth and seventh type of tip. McDonald noted that not all these threats turn out to be legitimate and some are duplicate tips for multiple people.
The program is available to every district in the state for free and most take advantage of that, a model unique to Colorado.
Some districts, including Douglas County, also partner with the local sheriff’s office to offer a second text-to-tip line. In Douglas County, Text-A-Tip was used to report the 2015 Mountain Vista murder plot, in which two teenage girls planned to commit a mass shooting.
Students, teachers and community members can make an anonymous report at safe2tell.org by using a smartphone and downloading the Safe2Tell Colorado mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play or by calling 1-877-542-7233 to speak to a live dispatcher.
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