In 2018, the General Assembly passed Act 44 mandating the establishment and use of the “Safe2Say Something” (S2SS) anonymous reporting system by every Pennsylvania school entity by January 14, 2019.
S2SS is a life-saving and life-changing school safety program that teaches students, educators, and administrators how: (1) to recognize the signs and signals of individuals who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others, and (2) to anonymously report this information through the S2SS app, website, or 24/7 Crisis Center Hotline. The following provides an overview of how the program works and is implemented in schools:
HOW IT WORKS
- A tip is submitted via mobile app, website, or phone call—arriving first at the S2SS Crisis Center.
- Crisis Center analysts vet and triage the tip by engaging the tipster in anonymous two-way chat and collaborating, when needed, with schools to gather contextual or historical information on the student in question in order to provide detailed and immediately-actionable information to schools and dispatch.
- Crisis Center analysts deliver the tip to the impacted school and, as needed, local law enforcement via 911 County Dispatch.
- The school and, as needed, local law enforcement, assess and intervene with the at-risk individual.
- The school then closes out the tip and reports actions taken as a record for their school.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has established S2SS, and manages and maintains the program. The OAG, in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), a leader in anonymous reporting systems, has built out the app, website, and PA-based 24/7 Crisis Center. SHP is a national non-profit committed to creating safe schools and communities through their four evidenced-based Know the Signs intervention programs. To date, SHP has delivered its programs to 10,000+ schools and trained 5+ million youth and adults in every state resulting in countless suicide, school shooting and firearm threat interventions and countless bullying, drug use, and other acts of violence and victimization interventions.
OAG Crisis Center analysts are trained to vet and triage tips by: (1) conducting 2-way anonymous dialog with tipsters to gather missing information and ensure enough information is provided for schools and local law enforcement to act upon, (2) categorizing each tip as either “Life Safety” or “Non-Life Safety,” for ease of prioritization by tip recipients, and (3) delivering the tip to the impacted school and, when needed, its local law enforcement via 911 county dispatch.
TIP RESPONSE AND MANAGEMENT
The S2SS platform allows users (Crisis Center analysts, school entities, and 911 County Dispatch) to access / manage tips and coordinate interventions on both their PC and mobile device. Additionally, the platform allows for real-time 2-way dialog with tipsters and the viewing / sharing of attachments (such as screenshots or videos) uploaded by the tipster. The platform permits communication between school / dispatch users on each tip, allowing for up-to-the- second information-sharing and action that all see and read at the same time– as one of the MOST critical pieces of information needed for a Life Safety issue is a child’s address. This address must be passed to 911 Dispatch to pass to the local law enforcement to act upon. This exchange can take seconds, helping to act quicker to save lives.
A district, charter school, cyber charter school, private school, nonpublic school, intermediate unit, and/or area vocational-technical school must have an assigned S2SS Lead to coordinate the establishment and training of a 3-5- member team who receive and act upon tips submitted to their school(s). Additionally, the team will help maintain and sustain S2SS long-term in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise local coordinators, who will in turn support the efforts of the S2SS Admin-Lead. Training for S2SS Leads is 3 hours, while team members require 2 hours. In-person S2SS Team training will resume in Fall 2019. Schools / districts launching before then must complete training online. Training webinars and presentations are available in the S2SS Resource Portal. All team members are required to practice using the system a minimum of 30 minutes before launching.
County-based 911 dispatches have an assigned S2SS Lead to coordinate the setup and training of their personnel to action against life safety tips. Dispatchers use the S2SS platform to view and act upon the tip, conduct 2-way dialog with a tipster, communicate with the school team, and act against the tip by dispositioning to local police jurisdictions. Training of S2SS Leads takes 2 hours and is delivered by external experts and requires a minimum of 30 minutes of un-interrupted practice time. Dispatch team / personnel training will take 2 hours, including 30 minutes of practice time. In-person S2SS Team training will resume in Fall 2019. Schools / districts launching before then must complete training online.
At the conclusion of school and police investigation and intervention (as needed), all tips will be closed out by school personnel only. Districts, charter schools, cyber charter schools, private schools, nonpublic schools, intermediate units, and/or area vocational-technical schools can then run reports to analyze the types, times, etc. of tips received and, over time, view trends to demonstrate where change is taking place or is needed.
Students, educators and administrators are trained to recognize the signs and signals of individuals who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others along with how to use the S2SS anonymous reporting system to submit tips of the signs and signals they observe. Training takes 1 hour and is available via an interactive training course and the downloading of materials to self-lead and/or direct S2SS certified trainers (where availability exists).
S2SS will be sustained via support by Sandy Hook Promise’s School Outreach Coordinator, in-school awareness materials (at no cost), annual training of new incoming classes and educators/administrators, and, critically, establishment of in-school student clubs (existing or new clubs) to empower students to create sustained change.