Following last month’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the state is looking into ways to prevent further tragedy. For inspiration, they’ve turned to Colorado’s Safe2Tell program, a statewide bystander reporting program aimed at improving school safety.
The Safe2Tell app allows students to anonymously report concerns they have about classmates or school safety. The messages go to the Colorado State Patrol Communication Officers who follow-up with local school officials, mental health professionals or law enforcement.
After the Parkland shooting, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman reached out to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi to offer condolences and support. Coffman told Bondi the Safe2Tell app might empower Florida students.
“Now that Florida is in a situation of having its own tragedy and looking for things to do to improve school safety, we were able to give them the product of all our years of work and practice,” she said. “We can give them a proven strategy for success.”
Bondi took Coffman’s advice and now Florida is creating its own safety app. During a recent appearance on Fox and Friends, Bondi said she’s working with 10 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“They’ve designed the icon and they’ve named the app and they’re working with us,” she said.
Colorado’s Safe2Tell app was developed last summer. It’s part of the Safe2Tell reporting line, which also includes a phone number and website. Safe2Tell was created in 2004 after the Columbine school shooting to encourage people with information about a possible event to report it.
Since 2004, Safe2Tell has received over 44,000 calls and tips, with more people reporting every year. During the 2016-2017 school year Safe2Tell received 9,163 tips. From August 2017 to January 2018, Safe2Tell received 7,575. Tips in February 2018 increased 146 percent compared to the year before.
“We are seeing a lot more kids breaking the code of silence and telling us when there is something they see that’s a problem,” said Coffman.
The Safe2Tell reporting line is the first of its kind in the U.S. Bystander safety programs are gaining popularity across the country as states like Wyoming, Michigan and Nevada have either adopted the Safe2Tell model or developed similar programs.