"In almost every incident of school violence, there was a
group of people who were not caught off guard. Even though early
warning signs were present, adults seemed shocked. However, fellow
students knew that something was going to happen.," said
Frank Green, Executive Director of Keys
To Safer Schools.com. He cites a high school shooting
in Austin, Texas, in which two students were injured. Later, an
inquiry discovered 54 students had seen the weapon before it was
accidentally fired. None of them reported it.
"Guaranteeing anonymity to the individual reporting a problem,"
Green says, "is the key to making student violence-stopping
Methods for reporting criminal activity vary from School
to School. Many are anonymous while others are not. Encouraging students to
talk with counselors and teachers is an excellent method. Some schools use a
scheduled rap or sharing session where students can openly tell about things
they know. Sometimes reporting will only occur when a student reporter can
remain unknown. Anonymous hot lines with an answering machine are a common
method. Other programs use suggestion boxes or email and Web sites. Reports
Anonymous (c)* is one such site which
schools can use as an electronic suggestion box. To maximize anonymity, the
school subscribes to the service, rather than using their own website, so
that the students know the school does not control it. Posters are placed
around the school and community advising to students and even parents of the
website for reporting potential problem areas. The school receives a report
at specified intervals from the website managers and acts accordingly.
Asked whether anonymity is absolutely guaranteed, Green
said that students never have to reveal their names unless they choose to do
so. In some cases, though, where a crime is involved, a small monetary
reward may be offered that a student can collect by giving up anonymity.
"We believe that the forgotten Stakeholders in
school violence are the students, and the best way to get them involved is
through a School Charter like Students
The key is training the SAFE
members with Kids
are the Keys," said Green. "The SAFE
chapters are student-run and student-empowered. That means the students
own the operation, and it gets away from the concept of 'narcing'
[snitching]. With supervision from an administrator, a student board of
directors sets the ground rules for how each chapter is set up. SAFE
may be a free standing chapter or incorporated into another organization
such as FCCLA."
best feature of anonymous reporting? It works," said Green. "Kids
are the Keys and a SAFE
chapter can stop many crimes and violent incidents from happening.
Anonymous tips have solved locker thefts, stopped bullying that could have
led to greater violence, and headed off violent incidents."
best feature of anonymous reporting? It works," said
in any school are the first to learn about Early
Warning Signs of school violence. It seems only natural
that we should teach them rather than allow them to learn through
experience, especially when those experiences can be so painful."
Green says, " Kids
are the Keys is an excellent method of empowering
students and sometimes only they can prevent violence from occurring. This
program enables students to communicate danger without them being labeled as
snitches or putting themselves in harm's way by angering other students who
might hurt them."
This article is compiled from interviews of Frank G.
Green during April 2001 by radio and television reporters seeking expert
opinion on the subject of School Violence.
*For information on how your school or organization can
subscribe to Reports Anonymous (c), contact Keys for
a referral to their service. Keys@KeysToSaferSchools.com.
- A community violence prevention program).
SAFETY SITE ASSESSMENT).
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