FLINT TWP. — As school resumes so does the need to emphasize OK2Say, a two-year-old program that helps students confidentially report safety threats. Carman-Ainsworth Schools is an OK2Say School and has a link to the program posted on its web site along with its three-color logo.
A 2015 OK2SAY Annual Report recently issued by Attorney General Bill Schuette indicates that students statewide are using the program. For the calendar year 2015, the OK2SAY program received a total of 2,169 tips in a variety of categories, including peer abuse, suicide, and cyberbullying, according to a press release from Schuette’s office. This brings the tips total for the OK2SAYprogram to nearly 5,000 in just two years.
One of several 2015 violence prevention examples mentioned in the report, “OK2SAY received a tip about a student who posted a video on social media bragging about a plan to go on a killing spree at school and execute any police officers who responded. OK2SAY contacted local law enforcement who investigated the tip and determined it was a credible threat. The student who posted the video not only had a plan, but access to weapons. The student was expelled from school and is facing criminal charges.”
OK2SAY was created as a result of the Student Safety Act and operates as an early warning system in Michigan schools to prevent tragedies before they occur. For the past two years, OK2SAY has provided students the opportunity to confidentially report potentially harmful or criminal activities 24 hours a day.
“The 2015 Annual Report showcases the significant and positive impact OK2SAY has had and will continue to have on Michigan students,” said Schuette. “The continued partnership between many groups keeps the program going, but more importantly it’s the students. They continue to step up and reach out when they hear something or see something. Students are really the heroes. Lives have been saved, school violence has been prevented, and many Michigan students have received the mental health services they needed.”
OK2SAY is operated through a partnership between the Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, state agencies, schools, parents, law enforcement, and community leaders.
According to the U.S. Secret Service, in 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 being labeled a snitch. It gives a voice to students who might otherwise remain silent out of fear of retaliation or rejection.
“OK2SAY is not about getting students in trouble; it is about getting them the help they need,” said Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etu, director of the Michigan State Police.
The Key Features of OK2SAY:
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 about 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.
Comprehensive Technology: Anyone can confidentially submit tips 24/7 using any of the five tip methods detailed below. Multi-media attachments like photos, videos, and links to additional information are encouraged.
Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians at the Michigan State Police screen and forward tips to an appropriate responding agency including: local law enforcement, schools, local community mental health organizations, or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Accountability: Each responding organization is asked to complete an Outcome Report detailing the nature of the tip, how it was handled, and whether the situation was resolved or requires ongoing attention. This provides local entities an opportunity to illustrate that student safety threats are tracked and taken seriously. The 2015 Annual Report details the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year View the full report online at. www.michigan. gov/documents/ok2say/2015_ OK2SAY_ Annual_ Report_ 530634_ 7.pdf