Tipline Prevents 6 School Attacks in a Single State

Anonymous reporting system also prevented more than 100 suicides over 4 years, study finds
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2024 8:08 AM CST

School tiplines used to report potential gun violence and other concerning behavior from students helped prevent at least six attacks on schools in North Carolina over four years, according to a new study. Schools in 23 states, serving more than 5 million students from grades 6 to 12, have adopted the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS), which allows students to anonymously report behaviors from bullying to suicidal ideation through a 24/7 tip line, website, and app, per NPR. SS-ARS from the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation is staffed by trained counselors at Sandy Hook Crisis Center, who respond in less than a minute on average, gaining more information before notifying authorities, whether that be school staff, law enforcement, or emergency medical services.

In reviewing tips submitted from North Carolina from 2019 to 2023, researchers from the University of Michigan and Sandy Hook Promise found the system had prevented "6 confirmed planned school attacks," 38 instances of school violence, 109 planned suicides, and "enabled 1,039 confirmed mental health interventions," according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics, per CNN. More than 18,000 tips were submitted over the four-year period. About 10% contained a reference to firearms, now the leading cause of death for US children and teens. Of the gun-related tips, 38% were related to potential school shootings and nearly 25% were about seeing or knowing of a weapon, per NPR.

That means youth, who "often know much more than the adults do" about what's happening in schools, are "turning to SS-ARS to submit information about what can be very highly risky situations," lead study author Elyse Thulin of UM's Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention tells NPR. The system led to two NC students being apprehended for trying to enter a high school with handguns in the fall of 2022, the Washington Post reported in October. At that time, a rep for Sandy Hook Promise said SS-ARS had prevented at least 143 acts of violence with a weapon, including at least 15 planned school shootings, since 2018. More than 50% of K-12 schools in the US use some kind of anonymous reporting system, per the study. SS-ARS is free to schools, per the Post. (More school violence stories.)

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