Safe2Tell numbers skyrocketing, program guarantees anonymity reporting school violence threats
DENVER — Since the Columbine High School killings, Cynthia Coffman has seen seven Colorado school shootings in her 15 years with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
That’s one reason the outgoing state attorney general is thrilled that calls to Colorado’s Safe2Tell program were up by almost 50 percent in 2018.
“As attorney general in a state that has experienced seven school shootings since the infamous attack at Columbine High School, I understand the absolute necessity of information sharing between and among schools and districts, their law enforcement partners, social services agencies, mental health providers and the judicial system,” Coffman said.
FOUNDED AFTER COLUMBINE
Safe2Tell was founded in Colorado in 2004, after Colorado’s Columbine High School shooting that left 15 people dead and many more wounded.
The Safe2Tell provides an anonymous venue for parents, students, teachers, school administrators and law enforcement to share information.
According to Safe2Tell data, 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. Typically, people fear of being a “snitch,” or that the attacker would target the informant.
ANONYMITY IS KEY
Safe2Tell creates anonymity, said District Attorney Bruce Brown, with Colorado’s 5th Judicial District.
“Safe2Tell provides a great avenue for kids to fly under the peer pressure and alert school staff about their peers who may be doing more than testing boundaries,” Brown said. “The increase in usage demonstrates that this avenue to communicate is filling a need both by phone and online.”
The program has grown every year since 2004 when it was launched. In September 2018, a total number of 1,842 total reports were received — up 46 percent in monthly tip volume compared to September 2017.
“The numbers alone show the impact the Safe2Tell program has on breaking down the code of silence and empowering students to speak up for themselves and their friends,” Coffman said.
TWO MORE TOOLS
Coffman released two more tools to help schools better protect students:
1. Colorado School Safety Guide, researched and written by Sarah Goodrum, Ph.D., Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Northern Colorado, and William Woodward, M.P.A., Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder.
2. The Attorney General’s Office released an educational video with former Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis, discussing the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The video focuses on the importance of information sharing between schools and law enforcement to protect students and staff from school violence. The video also works to clear up some of the confusion over the laws around information sharing.