Safe2Tell provides confidential tip line

By: 
Bri Weigel

Bri Weigel

NLJ Correspondent

 

Safe2Tell Wyoming is a 24/7 statewide, confidential tip line for students and community members to report school safety concerns or threats of violence, and the program is making a difference. According to the 2019-20 Safe2Tell Wyoming annual report, the program received 1,519 tips in 2019-20 and 4,359 tips since Safe2Tell’s inception in October 2016. 

Tracy Ragland, former Newcastle High School principal, said that several Newcastle students used the tip line during his time as principal.

“Once a student begins to use it (the tip line), the network communication to get support to the student is very, very good. I was really impressed,” Ragland said. 

Breanna Ball, the public relations specialist for Safe2Tell, said that former Gov. Matt Mead established the program. She said Safe2Tell is a prevention-based reporting system established in response to school tragedies. Mead signed Senate File 97 into law after it received approval of the Legislature, which established the call center in 2016, according to Ball. She said the program is federally funded and made possible through the support of the Wyoming Department of Victim Services, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, Wyoming Homeland Security      and the Wyoming Department of Transportation. 

Ball said that a tip is submitted through the Safe2Tell mobile app, by a phone call or through the program’s website. The Wyoming Highway Patrol dispatch center receives and responds to the tips. Depending on the type of tip, the Patrol then notifies school officials and/or local law enforcement, according to Ball.  

The 2019-20 Safe2Tell report said that 16% of tips received were suicide threats and 12%      were related to student drug use, followed by vaping, bullying and self-harm. The report listed over 30 tip categories.

“We’ve quickly learned suicide is our No. 1 tip, along with other tips like bullying and cyber bullying,” Ball said. “People appreciate that we’re here as an outlet to confidentially report an issue that’s going on at school. It’s a safe way for them to report that issue.”

The report also stated that “Safe2Tell follows up with schools and local law enforcement to make sure the tip is investigated. A disposition form is required for every Safe2Tell tip received, and they are then entered into the program’s reporting system.” 

Ragland spoke highly of the program’s comprehensive reporting system. He said Safe2Tell is very efficient, activates quickly and maintains confidentiality.  

“We hope to intervene at the earliest point before a situation turns into a tragedy,” Ball said. 

Ragland said Safe2Tell is promoted through Freshman Impact and the health programs and Newcastle High School. 

“We’ve put the word out the best we can with the opportunities that we have,” Ragland said. “I’m impressed with the way the network is set up — just the communication of getting it (word of the program) out there, that’s always difficult.”

Newcastle Middle School Principal Tyler Bartlett said information on the program is posted in his school and around the community, though he has yet to work Safe2Tell in his time as principal. Currently, Bartlett said, Newcastle Middle School teachers and staff work with students weekly in “advisory.” Here, students are gathered in small groups, where they talk about mental health, emotional safety and other life lessons. Such meetings open the door for students to share tough situations, and Bartlett said students are pretty comfortable coming to teachers and staff.

“Our students and our parents and our staff do a good job of communicating concerns to us directly. I’m really proud of that,” he said. 

Bartlett said that he and his staff reiterate the saying “If you see something, say something”      and that Safe2Tell provides another option for students to report. 

“We just want to do everything we can to be proactive for our kids. The bottom line here is to keep our kids safe,” Bartlett said.  

The Safe2Tell website states that reports can be made by phone to 1-844-996-7233 from anywhere, anytime. The call is free and there is no caller ID. Reports can also be made through the mobile app and a web browser.

Ball said Safe2Tell also provides training, presentations, resources and marketing materials to schools in the state to promote the reporting system.

“We’re always looking for creative ways to expand our outreach. We want every student in Wyoming to know that we exist and that we’re here for them 24/7, 365 days a year,” Ball said.

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