FLINT TWP. — Carman-Ainsworth Schools are among those in the state actively promoting the state’s OK2Say student safety initiative.
With a motto to “Stop the Silence, Help End the Violence,” OK2Say received more than 2,000 student tips in 2015, according to a press release last week from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Schuette announced the 2015 results along with Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue.
In 2015, OK2Say generated over 2,165 tips in 30 categories, including:
536 tips on bullying;
396 tips on suicide threats;
261 tips related to depression or academics;
252 tips on cyberbullying, and;
158 tips regarding self-harm.
“The results show OK2Say is making a difference for Michigan kids,” said Schuette. “We have stopped violence, saved lives, and helped make it a little easier for students across Michigan to walk through the hallways at school. OK2Say is one more tool in a school’s safety box. We will continue our commitment to building a responsible and safe culture for all Michigan students.”
Etue added that the Michigan State Police is pleased to see that as more students learn about OK2Say, more students are using it.
“All tips are taken seriously; nothing is too small or insignificant to report,” she said.
In 2015, more than 1,000 OK2Say presentations reached 130,000 students across the State of Michigan. Eighty-six percent of the presentations were done in schools with students in grades 6-12. Other presentations were held at community wide events.
OK2Say is breaking the culture of silence among students in the partnership between the state Department of the Attorney General, Michigan State Police, state agencies, schools, parents, law enforcement, and community leaders. Available to Michigan students in grades K-12, it enables them to confidentially report potential harm or crimi- nal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees.
OK2Say is modeled after Safe2Tell, a Colorado program started after the 1999 Columbine tragedy. By comparison, in Safe2Tell’s first year of operation only 100 tips were reported – Michigan has received 20 times that number in the same time period.
Key Features of OK2Say are:
• 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. 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. The program accepts tips by phone, text message, email, mobile application, and a website form. Photos, videos and links to 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 law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
• Accountability & Complete Disposition: To ensure tips are acted upon, agencies receiving tips are required to submit outcome reports to the Department of Attorney General. An annual report details the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year.
Students, teachers, parents, school officials, 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: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565- 2729)
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY) *
Carman-Ainsworth prominently posts information about OK2Say on the front page of its website at www.carman. k12.mi.us/site/default.aspx?Page- ID=1 and also provides a link to the OK2Say website. — Rhonda Sanders