State Leaders Unveil New Text Tip Line To Prevent Acts Of Violence Within Schools

Friday, January 22nd 2021, 6:47 am
By: Colby Thelen

Students, teachers, and staff in Oklahoma schools can now report threats with a text. 

The State Department of Education partnered with the Oklahoma School Security Institute to create the platform they hope will bring students into the conversation through communication in the digital age. 

A tip line has long been in place, but it's a 1-800 number and not everyone was utilizing it. 

 "We were missing a demographic, a key component with the tip line," says Jon Parker, the executive director for the Office of School Safety and Security. "We were missing the students and we had to meet them on their platform. They needed to be able to text." 

The new system works in conjunction with the current tip line. It is meant to prevent threats of violence or acts of violence within Oklahoma schools. 

The texting implementation allows students to remain anonymous with two-way communication. 

A student can send a tip to the number 226-787. In the message line they write "OKS Threat" followed by the incident they are reporting. 

The message is immediately followed up by an automated message, and a real-life analyst within minutes. 

"I think what is great, is that interaction in real-time," says Parker. "They are going to quickly get a response and there's going to be a human on the other line that is going to start asking for information to start that interaction, that communication process. It's going to be a game-changer."

Tips may also include pictures or videos. The analyst will monitor the tips and push the information to their partners. That could also include law enforcement, the superintendent, and the school's principal. 

"You've got to loop those students in. Most of the time they have the eyes and ears. They have the pulse," Parker says. "They are going to know more, see more, hear more than the teachers and the principals for sure." 

Many students across the state are currently working from home. The tip line will not only help monitor threats within the building but also threats students face online. 

State Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, responded to the new technology saying, "Students need to feel safe and comfortable for meaningful learning to occur. We must do everything in our power to ensure student safety, and we are grateful for this partnership that allows for us to expand the tip line.”