LANSING—Michigan students will have a 24-hour, 365-days-per-year confidential tip line to help prevent school tragedies after Sen. Judy Emmons’ legislation creating the OK-2-SAY hotline was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder.
“The recent shooting in Colorado and somber anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy remind us that the safety of all our school children is a top priority,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “The Michigan Student Safety Act is about saving lives. Enhancing our ability to uncover violent activities before they occur starts with knocking down the barriers that intimidate students from telling someone about planned violence in our schools.”
Senate Bill 374, now Public Act 183 of 2013, creates a state program modeled on a Colorado initiative launched after the Columbine High School tragedy. That program has fielded 7,000 tips since 2004 and resolved 28 planned school attacks, 890 planned suicides, 1,636 bullying instances, 442 sexual offenses, and 275 weapon reports.
“According to the U.S. Secret Service, in more than 8 of every 10 school violence incidents, someone other than the attacker knew about the plan but didn’t report it,” Emmons said. “This failure to speak up is often due to fear among students about being a tattletale. I am proud that Michigan now has a program designed to eliminate that fear by guaranteeing in state law that a child’s identity will be 100 percent confidential.”
Emmons spoke at a press conference on Tuesday outlining the new hotline with Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, Rep. Rick Outman and officials from education and law enforcement. Emmons thanked Outman for his leadership on developing the hotline.
“I first became involved in the development of OK-2-SAY when the superintendent of Cadillac Schools, who is from Colorado, shared that state’s successes with my brother, a principal at Cadillac Schools,” said Outman, R-Six Lakes. “I have met with Colorado officials, and I am impressed with the great successes they have achieved. Many tragedies have been prevented because the tip line is confidential, which gives children the security they need to use the program. With all the heartbreaking violence happening in our schools, this effort matters.”
The new law requires the Michigan attorney general’s office in consultation with the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Michigan Department of Community Health will cooperate to establish a hotline that:
• Protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity;
• Operates 24-hours-a-day, every day of the year; and
• Accepts tips by phone, text message, email, website and multimedia device.
Editor’s Note: A print-quality photograph is available by visiting the Sen. Emmons’ website at www.SenatorJudyEmmons.com.
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