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Pennsylvania Schools Promote Campaign to Curb Gun Violence

Mt. Pleasant High School is implementing a new nation wide tip line designed to help prevent school violence.

In just a few short days it will be the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Fla. shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and staff members died and several others were injured. The effects of this violence on a campus have reached further than just the state of Florida, with many campuses all over the country stepping up their efforts to secure their schools and communicate with students to better predict incidents.

In Pennsylvania, a statewide tip line has been established so that students, faculty and administration, as well as law enforcement, can be educated and informed in the case of an emergency. At Mt. Pleasant Senior High School, students were being made aware of this new tip line through a campaign called, "Safe2Say Something." The campaign promotes the mobile app, hotline and website for the tip line.

Mt. Pleasant is only one of 3,375 schools that are participating in Safe2Say Something, a program designed by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing gun violence against children. Students can inform law enforcement and administration of something they might have seen online, a text they might have received or a conversation they overheard in the hallway using the the Safe2Say Something mobile app.

Trained agents monitor the tip center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. School officials designated to respond are on call as well. Kenneth Williams, the Safe and Secure Schools coordinator for the Mt. Pleasant Area School District, said he received the first tip deemed to require immediate response within 90 second of it being logged in Harrisburg.  

Lawmakers in Harrisburg agreed to underwrite the Pennsylvania program run by the Attorney General's office in the wake of debate following the Parkland shooting. 

Of the 2,300 tips collected during the program's first four weeks of operation in January, 900 prompted action to protect schools, students and others, according to data from the Attorney General's office.

Officials believe they have already prevented at least one tragedy from happening using the tip line. Shortly after the program went live, officials received a tip that a 14-year-old wrote they he was going to go on a shooting spree at Hazelton Middle School in Pennsylvania. The Safe2Say Something tip led authorities to the boy's home where they found a loaded .45-caliber Glock handgun.

"[The Safe2Say Something Program] is a very safe way for kids to not feel silly about coming forward and saying, 'This student needs help,'" Williams said.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.