Anonymous Hotlines for Students to Report Crimes
It’s no surprise that students would feel uneasy about reporting any type of violence or other crime committed in school. Between fearing retaliation and just not wanting to be a snitch, many students see or are involved in violent acts and other crimes that go unreported. This is why the use of anonymous crime prevention hotlines has proven so effective; it allows a student to report things like violence, weapon and drugs via hotline without having to disclose their identity. The tips are then followed up on by the proper authorities.
Some schools have been using this sort of strategy for a few years now with great success. For schools who have not yet implemented an anonymous reporting line, having one set up is fairly easy and can be done with the help of your local police or school board. It only takes a phone number, someone to man the phones and some crafty ways to get the word out to students so they know that the service exists. The most important part of this type of service is to ensure the anonymity of the students who call to report a crime. This is not only for the safety of the student but also for the program to be effective. In order for a school reporting hotline to work, the students need to trust that they will indeed remain anonymous as any slip ups would lead to a lack of trust, making the entire plan useless. Of those schools who have managed to successfully implement the program, they used simple posters to spread the word around so that students would be aware of the hotline. These schools have gone on to report a decrease in gun, drug and violence-related incidents amongst their students.
One factor that may deter a school from offering such a necessary and helpful service is the cost. While some municipalities may allow a school to connect their hotline directly to the local authorities, that may not be an option for others which would mean paying trained staff to handle the calls. In response to this, several companies have popped up to meet the demands and offer reporting hotline answering services. Companies like ‘Report-it Inc’ and ‘WeTip’ offer hotline answering services that cater to the needs of schools who incorporate a crime reporting hotline into their school safety program. These companies work off-site and have a call centre full of operators who are trained to take calls and direct the anonymous tips to the proper administrators or authorities. These companies have proven quite efficient as well as cost-effective in comparison to hiring on-site security personnel or officers to answer the calls.
If you are a parent who is concerned about school violence and crimes or a school administrator who would like to see a crime reporting hotline created for your school, then speak to your local school board and get the ball rolling.