Anonymous safety report hotline unveiled for Michigan schools

OK2SAY, a hotline and student safety initiative, debuted this year for Michigan students. Created in response to the Student Safety Act, which required the creation of a program that would allow people in the school and community to report crimes or potentially harmful situations confidentially, the goal of the program is to prevent violence before it occurs.

“I think this is a good preventive step; a proactive step instead of a reactive step,” Midland Public Schools superintendent Michael Sharrow said.

Studies conducted before the Student Safety Act was passed found four out of five incidents of violence at schools could’ve been prevented if a confidential system like OK2SAY had been available. The hotline was also inspired by the success of other programs like Safe2Tell, a hotline created in Colorado following the Columbine tragedy which started out slow but now receives thousands of tips concerning everything from planned shootings to suicide attempts.

While students here in MPS are encouraged to report any signs of violence or danger, OK2SAY will also act as a confidential way to report feelings of depression or suicide. One of the concerns OK2SAY hopes to address, brought up after increased incidents of school violence from shootings to stabbings, was mental health.

“How does our society deal with, figure out mental health?” Sharrow said. “It’s awareness, it’s reporting, it’s noticing people who are having issues early enough and the early signs. So I think this is a step in the right direction.”

While the state is hoping to see a positive outcome from the implementation of OK2SAY, Sharrow does have some concerns.

“My concern when I first saw it was the false reporting that could occur and how tied up our school administration would get because you can’t ignore any [reports], you have to check,” Sharrow said. “The last thing you can do is ignore one and have it turn into a reality, so how much time and energy would our building administrators have to spend? Someone in this building will spend part of their day trying to figure out if this is a reality, if this is something we really should be concerned with.”

As of Oct. 9, there have been no reports yet, but Sharrow is optimistic about the positive impact it will have in MPS.

“When 911 first started, it took a while before people knew and understood there was a system to call for emergencies, so I think the same thing will happen here,” Sharrow said. “Over time this will become so well known that anyone who knows of issues concerned about violence will instantly make that contact.”

Students who hear, witness, or know of any potential danger to other students or themselves, should report to OK2SAY:

Call: 8.555.OK2SAY

Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)

OK2SAY Mobile App: available for both iPhone and Android

For more information go to:

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Mary Noble

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