Tips to Colorado’s Safe2Tell hotline hit another record as new school year begins

By Meg Wingerter
The Denver Post

Students and concerned adults made about 4,400 more tips to Colorado’s Safe2Tell reporting line in the school year that ended July 31 than they did in the previous year, continuing an upward trend since 2004.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office reported 19,861 “actionable” tips in the 2018-19 school year, not including duplicate tips and prank messages. About 2.4% were believed to be intentionally false reports.

Attorney General Phil Weiser said the raw number of tips was higher because the system received more duplicate reports than in previous years. The increase suggests students are breaking a “code of silence,” he said in a news release.

July was a relatively slow period for tips, but the system — created to allow students to anonymously report threats following the Columbine massacre in 1999 — still recorded a major increase over the same time last year.

Safe2Tell received 551 tips this July, compared with 304 tips in July 2018. The most common reason was suicide threats, which accounted for one in five tips. Other top reasons were concerns about drug use, requests for information and reports of cyberbullying and sexting.

Cyberbullying wasn’t in the top five concerns for the year as a whole, and Safe2Tell director Essi Ellis speculated it accounted for a greater percentage of tips in the summer because students were interacting on social media instead of in person at school. General bullying, not specifically linked to electronic media, was the third-leading concern for the full year, behind suicide threats and drug use.

Ellis urged parents to talk to their children about how to interact online.

“Using online platforms to bully or harass another individual is a serious issue that carries legal consequences,” she said in a news release. “When it comes to your online activities, always think about what you post before doing so.”

Students and others can report concerns by calling 877-542-7233, visiting Safe2Tell.org or using the Safe2Tell mobile app.