By Oliver Lazenby
The Blaine school district has launched an anonymous tip line that district officials hope will make it easier for people to report safety concerns.
The line, called SafeSchools Alert, allows students, parents and community members to report tips on bullying, harassment, drugs, vandalism or any other safety issues confidentially by email, phone, text or website. Those who want to make an anonymous call or text can press 844/201-8732. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and tips can be left online at blaine-wa.safeschoolalert.com.
“In theory, anonymous lines prompt people to more readily share a concern or make a complaint,” said district superintendent Ron Spanjer at a January 22 school board meeting. “This is a step forward in giving students and community an opportunity to anonymously be in contact with us with information they think we should be aware of.”
The district has received tips in the past, but people did not have a way to do so anonymously.
Lynden school district superintendent Jim Frey said his district began using the SafeSchools Alert system in 2013; Bellingham and other local districts have subsequently signed on.
“We have received tips from the line that we follow up on,” Frey said. “We think it’s important to have a variety of ways for people to bring us information.”
A company called Vector Solutions developed SafeSchools Alert to facilitate reporting of bullying and other safety issues.
In the state-wide 2016 Healthy Youth Survey, 29.1 percent of Blaine High School seniors and 22.4 percent of sophomores reported being bullied within the past 30 days. Nearly 17 percent of students surveyed said they weren’t sure how to report bullying.
The survey also reported that 9 percent of 12th graders and 5 percent of 10th graders said they had carried a weapon on school property within 30 days before the survey.
The district has already received tips since the line launched last week, said Tina Padilla, superintendent assistant. School officials are notified whenever someone leaves a tip, but the line is not monitored around the clock and shouldn’t be used as an emergency line.
For emergencies, call 911 or to use these other resources:
Volunteers of America 24-hour Crisis Line: 800/584-3578
24-hour Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services: 877/715-1563
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800/273-8255