Posted on 14 January 2016.
School safety initiative saves lives and helps kids struggling at school
A school safety program that emphasizes that it’s ok for students to tell when someone’s being bullied, self-harming, threatening suicide, carrying weapons, etc., received over 2,000 tips in its first full year of operation.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the 2015 results of the OK2Say student safety program this week.
In 2015, the school safety initiative generated over 2,165 tips in 30 categories, including:
- 536 tips on bullying;
- 396 tips on suicide threats;
- 261 tips related to depression or academics;
- 252 tips on cyberbullying, and;
- 158 tips regarding self-harm.
“The results show OK2Say is making a difference for Michigan kids. We have stopped violence, saved lives, and helped make it a little easier for students across Michigan to walk through the hallways at school,” said Schuette. “OK2Say is one more tool in a school’s safety box. We will continue our commitment to building a responsible and safe culture for all Michigan students.”
“The Michigan State Police is pleased to find that as more students learn about the OK2Say program, more students are using it,” stated Etue. “All tips are taken seriously; nothing is too small or insignificant to report.”
In 2015, more than 1,000 OK2Say presentations reached 130,000 students across the State of Michigan. Eighty-six percent of the presentations were done in schools with students in grades 6-12. Other presentations were held at community-wide events.
OK2say: Breaking the culture of silence among students
OK2Say is a student safety initiative operated through a partnership between the Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, state agencies, schools, parents, law enforcement, and community leaders available to Michigan students in grades K-12 and enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. Modeled after Safe2Tell, a Colorado program started after the 1999 Columbine tragedy, OK2Say enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. By comparison, in Safe2Tell’s first year of operation only 100 tips were reported. Michigan has received 20 times that number in the same time period.
Key Features of OK2Say:
Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person against whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. However, to address any false reports to the program, prosecutors do have authority to seek a court order to review records when investigating false reports.
-Comprehensive Technology: OK2Say is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The program accepts tips by phone, text message, email, mobile application, and website form, accessible at www.mi.gov/ok2say. Photos, videos and links to additional information are encouraged.
-Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2Say operators at the Michigan State Police address the immediate need and, as necessary, forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
-Accountability & Complete Disposition: To ensure tips are acted upon, agencies receiving tips are required to submit outcome reports to the Department of Attorney General. An annual report on the program’s impact will detail the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year. The 2014 report is available on the Attorney General’s website.
How to Submit a Tip
Students, teachers, parents, school officials, friends and neighbors can all submit tips, if they are aware of a threat in school. Tips can be submitted though the following ways:
Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY) *
Mobile App: Google Play iTunes