Michigan starts confidential school safety hotline

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced a new hotline and online student safety system called OK2SAY.

Schuette unveiled the program Wednesday at Detroit's University Prep High School, accompanied by city police Chief James Craig and other school and law enforcement officials.

Schuette's office says in a statement that the system "enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees." It's an outgrowth of the Student Safety Act of 2013.

The system operates all the time and keeps reporting people's identities confidential unless they voluntary identify themselves.

It's reachable at the Internet site www.mi.gov/ok2say or by calling 1-8-555-OK2SAY.

From the OK2SAY website:

OK2SAY is a program designed to empower Michigan students, parents, school personnel, community mental health service programs, and law enforcement to share and respond to student safety threats.

A Culture of Silence

In the majority of violent incidents that occur in our schools, someone other than the wrongdoer knows of a threat before it’s carried out but fails to report it. Often, students choose to keep quiet because they fear retaliation or stigmatization by their peers. The result is a culture of silence in which students suffer harm that could have been prevented if another had chosen to speak out.

A Commitment to Safety

The goal of OK2SAY is to stop harmful behavior before it occurs by encouraging students to report threatening behavior to caring adult authorities who can help. Featuring a comprehensive communication system that facilitates tip submissions through telephone, text, website, e-mail, and multimedia technologies, OK2SAY enables Michigan residents to confidentially report student safety threats to trained program operators, who forward tips on to local law enforcement agencies, school officials, or community mental health service programs for a timely response.

A Call to Say

Ultimately, it’s about early intervention and prevention. When students make the courageous decision to break the code of silence and speak out against harmful behavior, they equip authorities with the information needed to respond to threats and avert tragedy. And that’s a good thing for Michigan schools, communities, and families.

So, let’s stand up for student safety. Remember: it’s OK2SAY.