The Office of the Governor, Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Michigan State
Police, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Department of Community Health, and the MichiganDepartment of Human Services are taking action to improve the safety of Michigan schools for our children. Their student safety initiative is called OK2SAY.
The goal of OK2SAY is to create a comprehensive communication system that empowers students,parents, school personnel, community mental health service programs, and law enforcement officials to share and respond to student safety threats.
Rationale In many schools, a culture of silence is reinforced among students who consider it intrusive or un cool to report (snitch) threatening behavior for fear of retaliation and stigmatization. Research indicates that 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.
FeaturesOK2SAY opens the lines of communication among students and caring,professional adults through:
- Confidential Reporting: Reporter confidentiality will be statutorily guaranteed.
- Comprehensive Technology: Tips can be submitted by telephone, text message, email, or at theOK2SAY website. A downloadable mobile application is also being developed. Multimedia attachments(photo, video, audio, etc.) and links will be accepted.
- Coordinated Intervention: Program operators will field initial reports an
d promptly provide theinformation to appropriate local law enforcement agencies, community mental health service programs,and school districts.
- Complete Disposition: To promote accountability, school, law enforcement, and/or community mental health service program officials will be asked to complete an outcome report detailing the nature of the tip, the action taken in response, the outcome achieved, and suggestions for improvement.
Key benefits of the OK2SAY program include:
- Increased Safety: Facilitates responses to harmful behaviors directed toward others or oneself, including bullying, substance abuse, weapons possession, and suicide threats.
- Crisis Training: Ensures that program personnel are trained in crisis management,including recognition of mental illness and emotional disturbance, and that psychiatric emergencies are referred to the appropriate community mental health services psychiatric crisis line.
- Collaborative Support: Empowers students to dialogue with adult authorities, transforming the cultureof silence into a collaborative support system.
- Timely Response: Encourages prompt responses to reports through 24/7 availability, police coordination, and outcome reporting.
- Improved Academic Performance: Creates safer learning environments where students can reach their full academic potential.
Success Other states have successfully implemented similar student safety programs, including:
- Colorado: Program has documented and resolved 284 planned school attacks, 320 gun/weapon reports, 469 sexual offenses, 1,323 planned suicides, and 2,207 bullying instances.
- Missouri: Key successes include tip submission through downloadable mob ile app. Program fielded 1,000+ reports in 2011, and 80% of law enforcement surveyed believe the hotline promotes cooperation between law enforcement agencies and school officials. TimelineThe OK2SAY program will be operational by September, 2014.
OK2SAY – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What is OK2SAY?
OK2SAY is a student safety program that uses a comprehensive communication system to facilitate tip sharing among students, parents, school personnel, community mental health service programs, the Department of Human Services, and law enforcement officials about harmful behaviors that threaten to disrupt the learning environment.
2. How can I submit a tip?
Tips can be submitted by telephone, text message, email, or at the OK2SAY website. A downloadable mobile application is also being developed. Multimedia attachments (photo, video, audio, etc.) and links to additional information are encouraged.
3. How does OK2SAY help prevent harmful student-related behavior?
At present, a culture of silence permeates the American educational landscape. In this culture, threats of retaliation and stigmatization often discourage students from reporting the dangerous behaviors of their peers. Based on research from 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 aims to eliminate this culture of silence by providing a confidential, collaborative communication system where students and authorities can work together to respond to safety threats.
4. How does the confidentiality work?
Who is informed when a tip is received? What information is shared? With whom? OK2SAY is a confidential communication system in which the identity of the reporting party is statutorily protected. Initial tips will be fielded by OK2SAY operators trained to filter the information to local law enforcement agencies, school officials, or community mental health service programs for timely response. The identity of the reporting party will not be shared with local law enforcement agencies, school officials, or the person against whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter chooses to voluntarily disclose his or her identity.
5. Who keeps records of the tips that are submitted?
Will schools need to hire more staff? Tip records will be kept with the Michigan State Police. Schools and community mental health service programs will not need to hire additional staff members to maintain these records. However, to promote program accountability, existing school personnel (likely the emergency contact designee(s) or other school representative) or community mental health service personnel may be asked to submit outcome reports detailing how incidents are handled.
6. How is the validity of a tip established?
Is there a filtering system in place to prevent program abuse? OK2SAY is a resource that individuals must use responsibly. Practical jokes and prank tips will not be tolerated. The program will remind users that reporting a tip is a serious action that will result in a response from the appropriate authorities. OK2SAY operators will use their professional expertise to assess the validity of reports and determine whether further action is appropriate.
7. What happens to the tip if the individual reporting is threatening to hurt him/herself?
The OK2SAY operator will address the immediate need and as necessary forward the call to the appropriate responding agency. All psychiatric emergencies are additionally referred to the appropriate Community Mental Health Services psychiatric crisis line.
8. What is the appropriate action when a tip is received?
Because the content and circumstances of each tip will vary, the appropriate follow-up action will likewise vary. However, in each case, the emphasis is not the arrest of the person against whom a tip is offered. Rather, the goal of the program is prevention of harm.
9. Is school participation in OK2SAY mandatory?
No. Michigan schools are free to choose whether or not they participate in the program.
10. Do schools have to pay to participate in OK2SAY?
No. The program is offered free of charge.
11. When will OK2SAY be available?
The OK2SAY program will be operational by September, 2014.
12. What are OK2SAY’s hours of operation?
OK2SAY will remain operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
13. Has this been tried anywhere else? Is it working?
14. What is the appropriate response to incidents that are reported outside school hours (e.g. evenings or summer vacation) or off school property (e.g. sporting events or field trips)?
15. What about parents? To what extent are they involved in responding to potential threats?
16. How will OK2SAY be promoted?
17. When is a tip considered resolved?
CLARE COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE PRAISES LAUNCH OF NEW STATEWIDE STUDENT SAFETY INITIATIVE
Partnership with AG, MSP, State Agencies, Schools and Law Enforcement Creates Comprehensive Safety Initiative for Michigan Kids Harrison, Mich.–Clare County Prosecutor’s Office today praised the launch of OK2SAY, a new hotline and student safety initiative available to Michigan students beginning in the 2014-2015 academic year. OK2SAY enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. The program will operate 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), OK2SAY’s focus is on early intervention and prevention.
“Keeping our children safe in school is paramount,” said Michelle J. Ambrozaitis, Clare County Prosecuting Attorney. “OK2SAY is a fantastic tool for combating school violence. It empowers children to speak up and fight back against school violence.”
Our students learn best in a safe environment, but dangerous behaviors threaten to disrupt our schools, and in the worst cases, take the lives of our students,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette.
“OK2SAY will create an early warning system in our schools and communities to stop tragedies before they start. We cannot sit and wait for the next Columbine or Sandy Hook. We must be proactive to ensure our kids are safe, both inside and outside the classroom. If even one child is saved, this program will be a success.”
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 will discourage the persistent culture of silence among students who fear reporting threatening behavior is 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 will be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The program will accept 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 will address the immediate need and, as necessary, forward the
information to the appropriate responding agency or organization. Most tips are expected to go 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.
- Accountability & Complete Disposition: To ensure tips are acted upon, agencies receiving tips 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. OK2SAY is anticipated to log tips on a variety of issues involving student safety, including: weapons possession, bullying, substance abuse, and suicide threats. OK2SAY will be operated through a partnership between the Department of Attorney General, the Michigan State Police, state agencies, schools, parents, law enforcement and community leaders. A full list of OK2SAY partners and stakeholders can be found at www.mi.gov/ok2say
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 though the following ways:
Call: 1-8-555-OK2SAY, 1-855-565-2729
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)
OK2SAY Mobile App: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android.