Anonymous Colorado school safety line sees record number of tips in May

A student holds open the contact information for Colorado's Safe2Tell program on June 7, 2019. The program saw a 84% increase of tips since this time last year. (Photo Illustration by Austin Fleskes)
A student holds open the contact information for Colorado's Safe2Tell program on June 7, 2019. The program saw a 84% increase of tips since this time last year. (Photo Illustration by Austin Fleskes)

A state program that allows students to anonymously report concerns for their own safety or the safety of others in Colorado schools received a record number of tips this May, a sign, some say, that students are feeling more empowered to keep their schools safe.

The Safe2Tell program, which started in 2004 and was adopted by the state Attorney General’s office around five years ago, announced in its May report that the program received 2,877 tips last month alone.

This is an 84% increase in monthly tip volume compared to May of last year, the largest increase the program has seen since being picked up by the Attorney General’s office, said Program Director Essi Ellis.

“I truly believe it is students wanting to make a difference within their schools and really help their peers,” Ellis said, adding, “Even if we can help one student in need or in crisis, we feel that as a victory for the program.”

Safe2Tell gives students, parents, school staff and community an anonymous way to report safety concerns. Tips can be submitted online, over the phone (1-877-542-7233) or through the Safe2Tell app.

Submitted tips are screened by the eight Safe2Tell data analysts, who are trained to receive and disseminate these tips to local law enforcement and school administrations.

The service has been used before to address violent threats and possible suicidal actions within schools. In the 2018-2019 school year, Safe2Tell reported it had received 18,916 actionable, or serious, tips, a 22% increase over the previous school year. Suicide, drugs and bullying are consistently the top three categories reported to the program. Suicide threats alone increased 68% since May of 2018, according to the report.

These numbers come just a month after a deadly shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch that killed one and injured eight. School shooting like these, as well as others around the country, can lead to more calls in the future, Ellis said.

“I think it is students breaking that code of silence and really wanting to speak up and empower themselves and their peers to really protect their school,” she said.

According to the release, law enforcement and school districts reported that 97.5 percent of tips were submitted in “good faith” and 2.45 percent of the tips were false this school year.

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