SVVSD pushes Safe2Tell bill that makes certain reports confidential instead of anonymous

The misuse of Safe2Tell pushes the program to reconsider their policies


After the devastating events at Columbine High School, Safe2Tell was founded to allow students to report potentially deadly incidents before they happen. While the company believes in the anonymity of all sources, student abuse of that policy has led Safe2Tell to consider a new option. 

A simple search in the news will show examples of Safe2Tell being used to anonymously harm others and disrupting individual lives and whole schools.

But solving this problem is not an easy task. 

According to Brandon Shaffer, the district’s executive director of legal and governmental affairs, community outreach, and pTech, a new legislation hopes to change Safe2Tell’s policy from completely anonymous to confidential under special circumstances. These circumstances are an emergency or a false threat. An emergency would be if someone were to make a threatening call to the school. In the case of a false threat, the case would be taken to a judge who would determine if it was genuine. “Law enforcement would be required to get a search warrant in order to see any of the information that was disclosed through the Safe2Tell call,” Shaffer said. Even then, “they’ll have to keep whatever information they access confidential”.

A defining characteristic of Safe2Tell is its anonymity to protect the privacy of the reporter. Privacy ensures that students feel comfortable making a report to Safe2Tell. The special circumstances make sure that the identity of the reporter can only be seen in the case of someone misusing Safe2Tell. Those using Safe2Tell for the reasons it was intended will remain anonymous. “We are very sensitive to making sure that students are comfortable using Safe2Tell for the right reasons,” Shaffer said.

The Mav reached out to Safe2Tell’s communications person, but the program refused to comment on the bill at this time.

Safe2Tell’s anonymity is meant to encourage students to break the code of silence and report things that they feel might threaten their or other students’ safety. More often than not, students know what’s happening in the school before adults. Katie Saenz, the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, believes in the importance of reporting mental health issues and bullying. “If your friend is going to self-harm or is going to do something to other people, we’ve got to make sure that adults know that,” Saenz said.

Students themselves experience the stigma surrounding Safe2Tell and the jokes circulating through the school. Millie Garcia Meiring (‘22) shares her experience of kids fooling around with Safe2Tell in school: “[Kids have] been joking around, ‘I’m gonna call Safe2Tell on you!’” Jokes like these influence students’ views of Safe2Tell, causing it to be seen as a joke instead of a helpful and life-saving program.

The possible Safe2Tell bill hopes to keep Safe2Tell as a program used to help those who are struggling rather than one that causes more torment. “[Safe2Tell is] really used when we’re worried about someone’s safety. We’re afraid for them, so it bothers me that kids don’t use [Safe2Tell] correctly,” said Saenz.

If passed, the bill might finally offer a solution that will help Safe2Tell be used for what it was originally intended for.