7 Times ‘See Something, Say Something’ Stopped Potential Tragedies in 2021

A U.S. Secret Service report on averted acts of school violence found nearly all plotters shared their intentions with someone else.

7 Times ‘See Something, Say Something’ Stopped Potential Tragedies in 2021

A recent analysis of disrupted plots to commit acts of violence in schools found 94% of students shared their plans with someone, and nearly half documented their ideas in writing or online.

The U.S. Secret Service’s 2021 report, “Averting Targeted School Violence,” emphasizes that school attacks are largely preventable. The report also found the data between the foiled attackers and those who actually committed them were very similar, determining 77% of actual attackers had communicated with others about their plans.

While the report says early intervention is key to prevention, it also stresses the importance of establishing reporting tools, such as anonymous tip lines. It found only 34% of the schools studied had some type of system to notify designated officials of concerning behavior.

“Schools and communities must take tangible steps to facilitate student reporting when classmates observe threatening or concerning behaviors,” the report urges.”In this study, communications made about the attack plot were most often observed by the plotter’s friends, classmates, and peers. Unfortunately, many cases also involved students observing concerning behaviors and communications without reporting them, highlighting the ongoing need for further resources and training for students about how to report their concerns.”

Just over half of the public middle and high schools in the U.S. have tiplines, but school safety experts say they are among the most effective tools for preventing school violence. Michigan, which experienced a devastating mass shooting on Nov. 30 when a student killed four people and injured seven others at Oxford High School, has a statewide confidential tipline, OK2SAY. Last year, the tip line, which is staffed around the clock by trained responders, logged 3,742 calls, texts and emails reporting school threats, according to Chalkbeat.

“I absolutely believe if we did not have the OK2SAY tipline, we would have had a school tragedy like Oxford a long time ago,” said Lt. Colonel Chris Kelenske, deputy director of state police who supervises the Office of School Safety.

Unfortunately, the reality is not all acts of violence can be prevented. But, as the statistics continue to show year after year, seeing something and saying something can be the difference between life and death.

Here are 7 examples of potential tragedies that were halted last year because someone said something.

And although the term “see something, say something” is often associated with reporting threats of violence, it also applies to mental health concerns. Since 2013, suicide threats have been the top concern flagged each year by Safe2Tell Colorado. During the 2012-13 school year, there were 421 tips related to suicide and self-harm. In the 2018-19 school year, that number jumped to 3,668.

In its first six months, Pennslyvania’s Safe2SayPA received 2,529 tips related to self-harm and 2,184 related to suicidal thoughts. Comparatively, it received 607 reports of threats against schools.

In the words of Pennsylvania Republican Senator Scott Martin, “We can’t talk about school safety without also talking about mental health.”

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional information.

About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her family.

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