Trooper Rob: Reporting school safety

Published 6:57 pm Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Moments before I began writing this article, I received information that Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a school safety hotline program that will give students an easy way to confidentially report school violence. The following is from a news release from the Governor’s office:

LANSING, Mich. – Students will have a 24-hour, 365-days-per-year confidential tip line to help prevent school tragedies after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law creating the OK-2-SAY hotline.

“The OK-2-SAY hotline will give students the confidence to do the right thing without the fear of intimidation or retribution,” Snyder said. “We want a bright future for our kids and this program will help stop violent acts before they turn into tragedies.”

Senate Bill 374, sponsored by state Sen. Judy Emmons, creates the “Michigan Student Safety Act.” The Department of Attorney General in consultation with the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Michigan Department of Community Health will cooperate to establish the program.

“The OK-2-SAY student safety program will help students break the culture of silence by providing them with a confidential resource to stop tragedy and violence before it occurs,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette. “We cannot sit and wait for the next Columbine or Sandy Hook. I would like to thank Gov. Snyder for his support for this important initiative to keep schools safe.”

The program includes a hotline that will:

Accept tips by phone, text message, email, website and multimedia device;

Operate 24-hours-a-day, every day of the year; and

Protect the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity.

The program is modeled after a similar one in Colorado that was created after the Columbine High School shootings.

“Having an easy way for students to report trouble is important,” said Vickie Markavitch, Oakland Schools superintendent. “I’m especially pleased that the legislation addresses referrals for proper intervention and mental health services.” SB 374 is now Public Act 183 of 2013.

A formal press conference was planned to discuss the OK-2-SAY legislation on Tuesday, Dec. 17. As of the time of this article, the phone number and website have not been released.

Students are encouraged to report any impending school violence to ANYONE they trust. Students can talk to school liaisons, trusted teachers or school administration, or leave anonymous tips on the school’s answering machine. The important thing is to report it.

If you see (or hear) something, say something!