OKAY2SAY

3rd Jul 2015

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OK2SAY Student Safety Initiative

January 7, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue today announced the significant first semester success of OK2SAY, Michigan's comprehensive school safety initiative, in keeping Michigan students safe. The school safety initiative generated 410 tips including 163 tips on bullying and cyberbullying, 54 threats of suicide, and 13 tips on child abuse.

"OK2SAY is working to keep our kids safer in Michigan communities and schools," said Attorney General Bill Schuette. "If even one child's life is saved by OK2SAY, this program will have been a success. OK2SAY has passed its first semester with flying colors."

"OK2SAY has been successful in giving students the opportunity to break the code of silence by submitting tips by telephone, text, web, email and multimedia technologies," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. "We're pleased to be part of a program in which more than 400 tips have helped to respond to threats and prevent tragedies in our schools."

OK2SAY operates as an early warning system in our schools to thwart tragedies before they occur. Created as a result of the Student Safety Act (183 PA 2013) signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder, OK2SAY's focus is on early intervention and prevention. OK2SAY was modeled after Safe2Tell, a Colorado program started after the 1999 Columbine tragedy, and enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. By comparison, in Safe2Tell's first year of operation only 100 tips were reported – Michigan has received quadruple that number in half the time.

OK2SAY Success Stories

For example, OK2SAY received a tip from a student who needed to speak with a trusted adult. After asking key questions, the OK2SAY operator learned that the student had a serious intent to commit suicide. The student had struggled with depression, self-harm and recent loss. According to a 2012 report by the Michigan Department of Community Health, one in 11 Michigan adolescents attempt suicide one or more times.

While staying in contact with the suicidal student, OK2SAY made an urgent call to the School Resource Officer (SRO) after discovering the student had written a suicide note. The OK2SAY operator provided the SRO with the name of the suicidal student without disclosing the origin of the tip. The student was located safely at the school and arrangements were made with the student's parents for the child to receive help and support.

Other OK2SAY success stories include:

  • A student arrested and gun confiscated after an OK2SAY tip alerted law enforcement;
  • A fight averted after an OK2SAY tip alerted school personnel;
  • A family and child received help from law enforcement after a sibling planned an attack on the child with a knife;
  • A bullied student contemplating suicide received mental health assistance and support from school.

OK2SAY became operational in Michigan schools on September 2, 2014. By December 19, 2014, 410 verified tips had been received by MSP operators through phone calls, text messages, web and mobile app submissions. The incident types and tip reports include:

  • Bullying/cyberbullying- 163
  • Suicide threats- 54
  • Threats- 17
  • Drugs- 34
  • Self-harm- 12
  • Other- 29
  • Assault- 7
  • Sexual misconduct- 21
  • Sexting- 19
  • Child abuse- 13
  • Fighting- 4
  • Alcohol- 7
  • Knives- 3
  • Guns- 3
  • Planned school attacks- 5
  • Domestic violence- 1
  • Dating violence- 2
  • Employee misconduct- 2
  • Stealing- 1
  • Weapons- 2
  • Program Questions- 11

OK2SAY: Fighting the Culture of Silence

According to the U.S. Secret Service, for 81% of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker had knowledge of the attacker's plan but failed to report it. OK2SAY discourages the persistent culture of silence among students who fear reporting threatening behavior as intrusive, will lead to retaliation or result in stigmatization as a "snitch."

Key features of OK2SAY include:

  • Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter's identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person against whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. If the reporter is a minor, the parent or guardian must also consent. However, to address any false reports to the program, prosecutors do have authority to seek a court order to review records when investigating false reports.
  • Comprehensive Technology: OK2SAY is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The program accepts tips by phone, text message, email, mobile application, and website form, accessible at www.mi.gov/ok2say. Multimedia attachments with additional information are encouraged.
  • Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY operators at the Michigan State Police address the immediate need and, as necessary, forward the information to the appropriate responding agency or organization. Most tips togo to schools and local law enforcement agencies, but in some instances, tips may go to local community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Human Services.
  • Complete Accountability: To ensure tips are acted upon, agencies receivingtips are asked to submit outcome reports to the Department of Attorney General. An annual report on the program's impact will detail the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year.

During September and October, Schuette visited schools in eight Michigan communities to educate students on how to use OK2SAY's confidential reporting system. Throughout this tour, he was joined by representatives from MSP, the Governor's administration, local law enforcement, statewide education associations, elected officials, local school officials and anti-bullying advocates.

How to Submit a Tip

Students, teachers, parents, school workers, friends and neighbors can all submit tips, if they are aware of a threat in school. Tips can be submitted through the following ways:

Call: 1-8-555-OK2SAY, 1-855-565-2729

Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)

Email: ok2say@mi.gov

Web: www.mi.gov/ok2say

OK2SAY Mobile App: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android.

Link to Attorney General Bill Schuette's Ok2SAY page.

https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-18155---,00.html