What Does Safe2Say Really Do?
By Diya Singh (Sophomore)
On Tuesday, May 17th, students at Obama were required to review a presentation and take a short quiz on Safe2Say as a way of informing the student body about the program. It was a mindless activity that most students completed for a full grade. But what does “Safe2Say” actually do?
Safe2Say Something was enacted by the state of Pennsylvania as a youth violence prevention program. It is supposed to teach students, educators, and administrators to recognize the signs and signals of individuals who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others, and to provide a space to report this information through the Safe2Say website, phone number, or app. These are entirely anonymous as stated in Act 44, the legislation that established the program. After a student submits a tip, it is sent to a crisis prevention center to be filtered, and then sent to the school district or law enforcement. The program is overseen by Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, which is responsible for operating it.
Although the program has proven successful–56,709 tips have been received since the program’s inception in January of 2019–it seems to fail to fulfill its other goal, to properly educate students, educators, and administrators in the recognition of individuals at risk of hurting themselves and others. After viewing the required presentation, The Eagle Times found that 4 out of 5 students had not heard of the program before taking the test. Most students were also unable to explain what Safe2Say does, but were able to regurgitate something along the lines that it was an anonymous reporting system. The lack of student awareness is an important problem considering the fact that this is Pennsylvania’s primary way of detecting and combating student violence. However perhaps more concerning is the lack of data on the number of situations where the program intervened. The Attorney General’s office is required to compose a report about various components of Safe2Say but fails to give important information about the effectiveness of the program.
Regardless, Safe2Say is a useful and accessible tool. It can also help us decide what efforts we should make as a city. The annual reports provide information on the most tipped topics for each district within the state. Pittsburgh’s are bullying/cyberbullying, suicide/suicide ideation, and hate speech/discrimination. Although there are clear points of future improvement, the program is still in relative infancy and will hopefully continue to improve and help students and communities in Pennsylvania.