The number of tips sent to a state program designed to report serious problems in schools increased by nearly one-third during the 2018-19 school year, according to an annual report of the program released last week.
That program, known as Safe2Tell, was created in the wake of the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999, when two students murdered a teacher and 12 of their classmates before killing themselves.
The program, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is designed to give students a safe place to report problems or concerns they see in their schools, everything from bullying to attempted suicides. Those tips are left anonymously to encourage students to report problems before they become serious.
From Aug. 1, 2018, to July 31 of this year, the program received 22,332 tips, 19,861 of which were "actionable," meaning they were not pranks, hangups or duplicative tips. That's a 28% increase over the 2017-18 school year.
"Safe2Tell is in its 15th year and the record-breaking number of tips in the last school year demonstrates how the program continues to be a valuable resource for school safety throughout Colorado," said Essi Ellis, director of the program.
Attorney General Phil Weiser, whose office administers the program, said the annual data is helpful in refining strategies schools use in targeting problems.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution to school safety," Weiser said. "Over the last year, Safe2Tell has had an enduring impact in keeping our students safe. The increase in tips shows that students are taking responsibility for the safety of their schools and their friends."
According to the report, at 3,668, suicide attempts continue to be the highest reported tips, with incidents of bullying (1,871) and drug use (2,164) not far behind.
Some of the more serious tips students often report include use of guns (326), knives (86), explosives (19) and a planned school attack (499).
Other tips received by the program were for such things as depression (988), dating violence (76), discrimination (106), ditching school (83), gangs (55), planned parties (155) and sexting (407).
Some students continued to flaunt the program, either as a prank or an intent to harm another student, the report said.
During the last school year, the program received 405 prank tips, 198 misused tips (ones that have nothing to do with Safe2Tell), and 541 tips that law enforcement determined were meant to maliciously harm, injure or bully another person. All together, they comprised about 5% of all tips received by the program during the year.