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All Concerns Are 'Safe2Say' With New Statewide Hotline For Pennyslvania Schools

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian

Pennsylvania schools are getting ready for a new system for reporting concerns about safety or troubling behavior that's slated to go live across the state Jan. 14.

The state Attorney General’s office is implementing the anonymous reporting system — Safe2Say Something — with the organization Sandy Hook Promise. That nonprofit is led by families of students who were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

The idea of Safe2Say is to offer middle and high school students — along with teachers, parents, elementary students or community members — one place they can anonymously report concerns. Those could be worries about a student’s emotional problems, a red flag about school violence or signs of abuse.

State College Area Assistant Superintendent Will Stout is leading that school district’s Safe2Say team. He said the district wants students and community members to feel comfortable talking with people in the schools when issues arise, but that's not always possible.

“I think it’s a really nice outlet so that folks can make reports to school districts anonymously, so that we have that information so we can act upon it, rather than not reporting it all," Stout said.

Starting Monday, Safe2Say Something is slated to be available to take reports by phone, online or using an app. Calls and messages will go to a state crisis center. The schools’ teams are notified of tips in their schools. If it’s an emergency, they’re notified right away, along with 911.

Stout said middle and high school students will complete a 1-hour training module on Safe2Say. But, elementary students, parents and others can use Safe2Say too.

“This is just another source that’s available if it’s outside school hours or they’re just not feeling comfortable making that initial contact in person,” Stout said.

All public schools, private schools and charters in Pennsylvania, have to participate under Act 44 of 2018. It will be the first time the Sandy Hook Promise program has been implemented across an entire state.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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