In this age of rampant cyber bullying, escalating abuse, and increased violence among young people, Michigan officials have sought for a way to keep the children and young people of our state safer. OK2SAY is a program designed to stop harmful and hurtful behaviors before they happen, by providing a safe and confidential way for threats to be shared with an adult who can help.
The program, which is funded by the state and overseen by the Attorney General’s office, was designed to empower students and other concerned citizens to report tips pertaining to possible school violence, student suicide attempts, and abuse against minors. In our “culture of silence” where tattling is discouraged and even stigmatized, this allows threats to be properly responded to without singling out the person who spoke up.
Launched just last year, the initiative is already proving to be a success. Within the Wayne-Westland Community Schools district, OK2SAY was able to provide schools with information, on a number of occasions, which was used to avert violence and respond to critical needs among the student body.
Which reinforces what Schuette says about the initiative, in that if one child alone is saved by the program, then it can be considered a success. One example of the way in which OK2SAY assisted Wayne-Westland Schools was a tip that came in after two students were hospitalized for use of the liquid synthetic drug “cloud 9”.
This helped the area schools to be more aware of the risk to students, and keep a closer watch on possible drug exchanges taking place on school property. Because the program is intended to allow officials opportunities for early intervention and prevention, this instance is an indicator of how well the system can work.
According to a recent report provided by Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, the first semester of the OK2SAY program was a significant success in which 410 tips were reported. 163 of those were tips on bullying or cyber-bullying, 54 were threats of suicide, and 13 pertained to possible child abuse.
Tips can be reported to a 24 hour hotline that brings together law enforcement, mental health professionals, and even school personnel so that threats can be safely addressed and hopefully dealt with properly. A tip can be submitted over the phone, via text, email or online through the website.
Phone: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)