MICHIGAN, USA — In light of the tragedy at Oxford High School, Michigan State Police are reminding communities of their confidential reporting tool to help keep students safe. In 2014, MSP created an online, prevention-focused resource called 'OK2SAY.'
According to MSP, "OK2SAY empowers Michigan students to help prevent violence and make their schools safe by confidentially reporting threatening behavior. Anyone can report tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees or schools."
"When someone sees or hears something, they may not know what to do but they want to help," said Mary Gager Drew, the Program Administrator for OK2SAY, "but we want them to know there is a way to help by submitting a confidential tip."
The free online resource send tips directly to MSP's operations center, and then technicians notify the necessary local law enforcement.
"Once we get all of the key details," said Gager Drew, "we take that information and we pass it onto the school, or to local law enforcement."
"Life saving is our number one priority," she added, "we turn tips around as soon as possible."
In 2020, OK2SAY logged 3,743 tips. 52 of those were tips of planned school attacks. When asked if anything had been reported about the attack at Oxford High School, Gager Drew said, "I can't say, because under section four, I can't confirm or deny any tips."
OK2SAY focuses heavily on prevention, meaning they want to help schools or law enforcement intervene before something bigger happens.
"OK2SAY is not about getting kids in trouble," Gager Drew, "it's about getting kids the resources they need before situations turn tragic."
According to the OK2SAY 2020 annual report, the top five types of tips reported were as follows:
1. Suicide threats
3. Other (e.g., anxiety, stress,
5. Sexual misconduct
"We want to help those kids who are getting bullied," said Gager Drew, "because sometimes taking care of the small things helps lessen the chance they'd turn into bigger things."
Gager Drew also said OK2SAY is a great way for someone to report threats that have been posted on social media or heard via word-of-mouth. She said that a lot of times, kids or bystanders think someone else has probably reported the threat of danger or they don't believe the threat is real.
According to a joint study by United States Secret Service and the United States Department of Education, in a joint study on school violence, perpetrators exhibited concerning behavior before the attack in 93% of the incidents. In 81% of violent school incidents, someone other than the attacker knew about the plan but did not report it.
This resource isn't just for students. Gager Drew said anyone with any information can be helpful, like bus drivers, coaches, teachers and parents.
"If you hear something, or see something in-person or online, always trust your gut," she said, "and pass the information on."
According to MSP, findings from the 2020 annual report include "10 tips involved the confiscation of weapons and 42 tips involved the seizure of drugs or alcohol. In 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program experienced a 42 percent decrease in tip volume as students transitioned to a virtual learning environment."
"We have to empower kids," said Gager Drew, "and let people know there's an easy, confidential way that they can help make a difference."
Since 2015, OK2SAY has logged more than 28,000 tips from across Michigan. 1,114 of those were for tips of planned school shootings ,so MSP believes this can continue to be a great resource for Michigan schools.
OK2SAY is available 24/7 and tips can be submitted the following ways:
- Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)
- Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)
- Email: OK2SAY@mi.gov
- OK2SAY website: www.ok2say.com
- OK2SAY mobile app: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android
You can learn more about OK2SAY by clicking here.
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