What Has Been the Impact of Safe2Say?

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Adrita T

January 2019 marked the implementation of Safe2Say Something across Pennsylvania school districts. Safe2Say is a state-wide program that enables students and adults to report potential threats of violence and other problems before they happen. However, despite its positive impact and intentions, students have some concerns about the system. “While the ability to provide students with an anonymous reporting system is definitely correct in intention, I think that the incorporation of Safe2Say into our school community has spiraled into yet another mocked and underused school enforced program. Safe2Say is necessary at State High, but it would be much more effective if it was introduced in a less cheesy manner that allowed kids to simply learn about it without the lengthy videos and motivational speeches,” sophomore Clarissa Theiss said.

Adrita Talukder

With the implementation of Safe2Say Something, Pennsylvania has become the first state in the nation to have a state-wide program that enables students and adults to report potential threats of violence and other problems before they happen. Safe2Say is run by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. “Pennsylvania students deserve a safe place to learn, free from the threat of violence from classmates or other individuals,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. The Safe2Say Something Program was made possible through a partnership with the Sandy Hook Promise. “We are proud to work with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General to provide students with our comprehensive violence prevention training and anonymous reporting system. We know that early prevention programs like ours are proven to stop violence before it starts.  With this launch, we will train students across the state how to recognize at-risk behaviors and take action to help someone else by submitting a tip anonymously,” said Nicole Hockley, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise.

Now, the goal of the Safe2Say Program is very clear: help youth and adults recognize “warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others.” But what has been the real impact of Safe2Say? Has it been an effective program at State High? There are mixed opinions. “Since Safe2Say was rolled out there have been 73 tips received, which is actually lower than other school districts in the county. There has been a clear impact within the school because it allows students/parents and the community to immediately report issues and to do so anonymously. We have had many successful tips leading to the identification of people committing crimes, violating school policy and rules as well as students reporting other students in need of intervention from suicide and self-harm,” Resource Officer John Aston said. So, it would seem that Safe2Say does have a positive impact. Since it was implemented in January 2019, there have been numerous tips that have led to the successful identification of pressing issues. But that’s not to say that the system is without fault. “The only cons that come to mind currently are some people have abused the S2S App by reporting false allegations or silly statements that are completely bogus and made up,” Aston said. Disregarding the false allegations, the percentage of tips that have led to the successful student intervention or the successful identification of a potential threat to the school is high. “Regarding all the tips we received, and then separating the tips that were reported criminal incidents, I would estimate based on a quick review that we are about 75%. Regarding student interventions of some sort, we are at 100%,” Aston said. 

From the perspective of an adult involved with the Safe2Say program, it seems that the program is a step in the right direction in securing the wellbeing of students and their schools. However, the opinion of the student body is a bit different than that of adults. “Safe2Say and other reporting programs/policies set in school generally aren’t really embraced by our school, they’re made fun of if anything else. I think at State High there’s a culture surrounding a lack of empathy, offensive humor, disregard for others,” said sophomore Michelle Zhang. “I think Safe2Say tried to present itself in a way that appealed to teens, by having an app, but if you look at the app reviews, they’re all memes/trolling, so it’s clear that teens don’t take it seriously. I think the main problem is that-at least in State High-people possess a lack of empathy and love offensive humor, and if someone needs help they don’t bother reaching out.”

 Other students’ opinions mimic this sentiment. “While the ability to provide students with an anonymous reporting system is definitely correct in intention, I think that the incorporation of Safe2Say into our school community has spiraled into yet another mocked and underused school enforced program. Safe2Say is necessary at State High, but it would be much more effective if it was introduced in a less cheesy manner that allowed kids to simply learn about it without the lengthy videos and motivational speeches,” sophomore Clarissa Theiss said. Students’ main concern is not the system itself, but rather the presentation of the system and the student body’s attitude towards it.

With the mental health and wellbeing of students becoming a growing concern for schools, it’s undeniable that the Safe2Say Something program is necessary. Safe2Say provides a resource for students to anonymously report concerns, and by doing so, they can help others and their schools. Taking a look at the results beginning from January 2019 alone, Safe2Say has already had a clear impact and has brought many issues to light. It’s a vital resource at State High, and through making it clear to students that it can have a great impact-perhaps in less insensitive manner- it gives students a chance to look out for one another.

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