Safe2Say: Administrators combat threats in schools across South Dakota

10 PM KOTA Territory News - Saturday
Updated: Nov. 25, 2022 at 10:29 AM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - School administrators across South Dakota are always looking for ways to keep their students safer. One school district took a step to the next level in order to prevent danger within their walls. Spearfish School District has implemented a new program to help combat cyberbullying, threats, and harmful actions not in their schools.

The newest program for South Dakota schools has been implemented in order to keep their communities safe. The program is called Safe2Say, a new anonymous program that allows students to report potentially harmful or dangerous situations online. The program has only been active for a little over 30 days but has already been proven to be beneficial to the community, students, and first responders.

“We’ve received and delivered tips to schools and to first responders in a live-saving fashion. For kids that have friends who maybe have suicidal tendencies. Students that have been bullied and need some sort of help in that regard. We’ve seen tips that have come in that are in reference to threats that have come to the school that interventions have been able to take place and maybe prevent something bad from happening in that regard as well,” says Brett Garland, the state School Safety program director.

According to dosomething.org, 37 percent of young people aged 12 to 17 have experienced cyberbullying, and that is only in cases in which the students feel comfortable enough to report. Only one in 10 feel comfortable enough to report it to an adult in their life. A majority, 81 percent, of students say they would intervene more if they could do so anonymously.

With this new program, school administrators in South Dakota hope to encourage students to report harmful activity they see online. By keeping it anonymous, they believe students will feel more comfortable reporting bullying or threats; but more importantly, reporting on students threatening suicide.

“This primarily stemmed back from April of 1999 back during Columbine. Then Gov. Bill Owens put together a study: What really happened? How can we fix this? How can we ensure that nothing like this ever happens again? One of the things that they determined is that people and students primarily are really reluctant to report concerns or threats because they are afraid their names might be attached to that. They are more apt or more willing to do that if they can remain anonymous,” Garland explained.

Although the program is new, administrators, parents, and students all hope to see Safe2Say continue its waves of benefits across the state.

“We’ve already seen the impact this has had, even in schools we haven’t had to opportunity to be in, but they recognize that this platform is there and so through the tips that we’ve been able to generate and deliver so far, there’s no doubt in my mind that this platform has had an extremely positive impact,” Garland said.

To access the Safe2Say program, you can download the app ‘Safe2Say’, go to safe2say.sd.gov.