State education officials announced Thursday that they will implement a statewide anonymous reporting system next year that students and school employees can use to report threats and other incidents.
The Say Something program and reporting system will allow students, teachers and school administrators to anonymously report suspicious behavior or potential incidents through a mobile app, the web or a telephone crisis hotline. Through the mobile app tipsters can send in video and pictures. All tips will be sent to school administrators, school police and a 24/7 crisis center, staffed with counselors who will notify school officials after hours when tips are life threatening or credible threats exist.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson says students are often hesitant to report concerns out of fear of retaliation, but says the anonymous reporting system provides a way to prevent that from happening.
“Students play a critical role in helping to keep schools safe,” Johnson said. “They may see and hear concerns that adults need to know about. With the Say Something program, middle and high school students will better understand what warning signs to look for and when and how to report important tips through an app.”
Johnson says the program will also provide information to students and school officials on how to recognize signs and signals of someone who has the potential to hurt themselves or others. He says that training will be the key to the program’s success.
The anonymous reporting system will be run by Sandy Hook Promise, a national organization run by family members who lost someone in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Co-founder Nicole Hockley, whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook shootings said, “We are proud and eager to work with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to train students across the state to know the signs of potential violence and report them to a trusted adult via the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System.
“With these comprehensive violence prevention systems in place, North Carolina schools will be safer, protecting millions of lives and empowering youth”
According to Hockley, 5,100 schools across the country are currently using their anonymous reporting system. North Carolina is the second state to implement the program statewide. Over the past four years, an anonymous tip app was piloted in five districts in the state through the education department’s Center for Safer Schools. Center officials say the majority of the tips they received involved bullying incidents. They also received tips about potential dangerous situations, drugs, weapons, underage drinking and fights.
Since the October fatal shooting of a student at Butler High in Matthews, Charlotte-Mecklenburg officials have focused on increasing security at schools. Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said in an email that the district officials are, “reviewing the features of the Say Something program to determine how this technology might best add protections for students and staff within existing and planned CMS security and safety measures.”