Safe2Tell remains Colorado's key tool to battle school violence
An anonymous tip line created in response to 1999's Columbine school shooting is poised to record more than 18,000 reports of threats this school year.
Threat level: The volume of threats is expected to increase this week, as is typical after a school shooting takes place, and officials are urging people to call the hotline if they see anything out of the ordinary.
- A report of a weapon at Northfield High School in Denver briefly locked down the campus Thursday but it was later determined to be a paintball gun.
- Boulder police arrested a 14-year-old on Wednesday for threatening a shooting at a middle school.
By the numbers: So far this school year, the state has received 266 Safe2Tell reports of planned school attacks, significantly up from the prior year but closer to par with pre-pandemic numbers, according to annual reports and officials in the attorney general's office, which oversees the program.
- The majority of all tips are related to suicide threats, bullying and drugs, with 95% actionable.
- The remainder are false reports (2%) and non-malicious misuse such as prank calls (3%).
The big picture: Earlier this school year, total Safe2Tell reports topped the 100,000 mark since the tip line’s inception in 2004.
- The numbers for this academic year represent an increase from the 2020-21 term but the figure remains below the record of 22,332 in the 2018-19 year.
What they're saying: The elevated figures are not entirely a bad sign, says program director Stacey Jenkins. "We are encouraged that students are speaking up when they do have concerns," she told us.
- "Students know before adults do. They are connected with their peers in the way adults are not," she added.
- Each response includes information for mental health crisis services, and often a request for more information.
- The most common outcomes are parental notification and welfare checks.
Between the lines: The connection to mental health counseling through the Colorado Crisis Services is part of an overhaul in recent years to better streamline the state's responses to threats.
What to watch: The greatest challenge facing the tip line is awareness.
- A recent survey conducted by the program's student ambassador group found discrepancies in what people knew about the program or how to share a tip.
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