Opinion: Safe2Tell breeds misuse

Fossil+televisions+broadcast+a+graphic+asking+students+to+report+destructive+behavior+at+Twin+Silo+Park+to+Safe2Tell.

C. Sears

Fossil televisions broadcast a graphic asking students to report destructive behavior at Twin Silo Park to Safe2Tell.

Caroline Sears, News Director

The recent influx of complaints surrounding student vandalism at Twin Silo Park has prompted the administration to ask students to report concerning behavior to the popular reporting website, Safe2Tell. This has sparked a larger debate about the nature in which students face conflict, and who reports it.

Safe2Tell, an anonymous reporting website, claims students’ actions will create positive change in their schools and community. Their motto promises this: “Make a report, make a difference.”

On their website, students can fill out a quick form and report suspicious or concerning behavior anonymously. Safe2Tell states, “you can help stop a friend from committing suicide, get another student off drugs, or stop a bully from making other people miserable.” In concept alone, this seems like a powerful tool for schools and businesses to use to prevent tragedy, but it does not account for the ambivalent nature of many high school students. This site has given students and administration a false sense of security, as it is often misused.

Their website defines “telling” as, “when you need to keep yourself or someone you know safe from threats, harmful behaviors or dangerous situations.” Safe2Tell ensures students know the difference between this and the problematic practice of “snitching.” Although I fundamentally agree with this idea, the execution within schools is bound to disappoint. Administration struggles to catch the false reports while serious threats slip through the cracks and go unnoticed. 

I once reached out to Safe2Tell in hopes of protecting a friend, which was met with no visible action. Later on, this same student proved far too dangerous to the PSD community and was expelled, not because of my report, but because their actions had hurt so many before the administration was even aware.

While this student was allowed to continue destructive behavior, the administration was forced to investigate claims that proved to be false. In concept, genuine reports to Safe2Tell can save someone’s life. 

On the other hand, some students are needlessly searched based on rumors. Some are called into the office for something they never have heard of. These “jokes” have the power to ruin someone’s ability to learn, tainting the credibility of actual reports in the process. 

Safe2Tell has promised protection for those who choose to make anonymous reports, but does not account for student misuse. (Safe2Tell Colorado)

Our generation has sat through countless anti-cyber-bullying seminars and campaigns all through adolescence. But as some of us chose to listen, many tuned out these messages, deeming them useless at the time. These repeated behaviors created an underlying division between those who chose to confront conflict through reporting and those who see it as an opportunity to joke. These “jokes” have contaminated the true issues worthy of concern on Safe2Tell.

The promise of anonymity creates an environment for misuse. Furthermore, many students who legitimately submit tips out of legitimate care or concern, are doomed to patiently wait without hearing anything or seeing anything positive come of it. 

As a community, instead of depending on an external, divisive platform, we need to prioritize face-to-face understanding of each other, and of consequences. When did it become taboo to express our concerns to each other face-to-face? Conflict exists so we may learn from it. We need to normalize having difficult conversations in the name of helping each other out.

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The fact is, we are still kids. It is difficult to comprehend the world around us, and although some of us may not understand the consequences of our actions yet, we are all expected to hold the responsibility of safety in our hands. It is not our job to enforce our safety as children. 

I only ask that those who choose to play a joke on their classmates understand what could come of a false report and that those who are facing conflict understand the power they hold to help their fellow student before it is too late. This issue cannot be fixed overnight and some concerns are too great to fix with a conversation. The rest, I leave to administration.

With more urgent claims, there is a different course of action. Here is a link to some resources.