School Tip Lines Seen as an Effective School Safety Strategy
School tip lines, or anonymous tip reporting systems, are designed to help school leaders receive information about potential school safety threats, bullying, or concerns related to student well-being. Tip lines provide students, who are often reluctant to report information, with an opportunity to submit information anonymously to their school leaders about potential threats of violence, bullying, drug and substance abuse, self-harm, and other safety concerns.
RTI International, a non-profit research institution, recently published a report, Tip Lines for School Safety: A National Portrait of Tip Line Use which summarized findings from their 2019 research that set out to understand the implementation and use of school tip lines around the country. Here are several important highlights from the study.
Prevalence of School Tip Lines
- As of fall 2019, 20 states have passed legislation requiring school tip lines, and two additional states had pending legislation.
- 51% of public middle and high schools in the U.S. currently have a tip line in operation.
- 60% of schools with tip lines report that the tip lines have been in use for less than three years, while 15% have had tip lines in place for 10 or more years.
Most Common Problems Reported through School Tip Lines
School tip lines are used by students and others in school communities to report a wide range of problems, beyond just threats of violence. According to data in the report, the most frequently reported tips involve:
- Bullying or harassment
- Posses, use, or distribute drugs (including vaping)
- Suicidal ideation (reported by another person)
- School complaint
- Threat of planned school attack
- Sexual assault/harassment
- Non-safety concern
- Threat of assault
- Threat to safety
- Possess, consume, or distribute alcohol
- Child abuse
Benefits School Administrators See from their Tip Lines
Principals and school safety personnel that are using tip lines reported several perceived benefits. The issues they reported their school tip lines are helping them to address can have a significant impact on school safety and student well-being. Key benefits administrators see from their tip lines include:
- 77% – More aware of potential safety issues
- 73% – Helped prevent incidents of self-harm/suicide
- 67% – Respond more effectively to bullying
- 56% – Helped prevent violent incidents
- 52% – Respond more effectively to drug use
While some challenges exist with the use of school tip lines, such as raising awareness about tip lines with students, educating students about the types of issues to submit through tip lines, and training students on how to submit tips with sufficient information for their schools to act on, according to the study, tip lines are largely seen as an effective component of an overall school safety plan by principals and other administrators.
SafeSchools Alert Helping Districts Prevent Incidents
With the SafeSchools Alert Online Tip Reporting System, students, staff, and parents can choose from five convenient options to submit tips: mobile app, phone, text, email, or website. Administrators are immediately notified of every tip, and can easily track and manage incidents in our web-based system. Districts around the country are using our tip reporting system to help identify and address potentially dangerous safety threats and concerns.
- Cherokee County School District
- Fannin County School System
- Monroe Public Schools
- Mason City Schools