PITTSBURGH (KDKA)– Safe2Say is the app and website, and during the first six months of this year it was very effective in taking reports focused on bullying, anxiety, and self-harm, but that’s not what is getting the attention of police, parents, and schools.
The issue of a threat against a school has gone from occasional to frequent, just ask the Fox Chapel School District which has dealt with three threats against the high school in just the last couple weeks.
Two resulted in the cancelation of classes.
Responding by email to my questions the Fox Chapel schools says, “We never like to disrupt the educational process, but we will do so when we feel the safety and security of our students are at risk.”
The statement goes on to spell out the detailed process the district uses to determine the validity of a threat.
“It can be difficult to discern whether a threat is real or if it is not credible. Every decision is made on a case-by-case basis.”
In the case of the Fox Chapel threats, all three came in anonymously through the state’s Safe2Say website.
While the school district believes Safe2Say has value and has saved lives– the statement says:
“The anonymous nature of Safe2Say can make it difficult to get to the bottom of false threats, and these investigations can end up taking considerable time and manpower.”
Safe2Say was set up by the legislature to be run by the attorney general’s office and Attorney General Josh Shapiro has met with students in school to reassure them they can use it as the site proclaims – anonymously.
There have been incidents where Safe2Say averted issues, like saving the life of a young man who was attempting suicide after a tip came into Safe2Say.
But the other side of the coin is the ability to disrupt school days with concerns about bogus threats which district and police departments cannot afford to risk ignoring.
While the number of false reports meant to disrupt school schedules is relatively low, police are concerned it’s a growing issue.
Ran out of Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, Shaprio has personally assured school students they can feel safe reporting concerns anonymously.
WATCH: Attorney General Josh Shapiro comments on the benefits of the app
Law enforcement has made it clear that they will prosecute all false-reporting culprits.
Shapiro says, “We’ve received over 27,000 tips from students across Pennsylvania and those tips have been incredibly helpful in saving lives and making sure we can help create a healthier environment for young people — 413 tips, about one percent of those tips were false and came through our checkpoint. The statute allows for local prosecution of false tips and in fact that occurred in one jurisdiction in northeastern Pennsylvania. False tips ultimately make it harder for students to get the help they need. I would call on all students to take this platform seriously and protect it so it can be used to look after those who are in need.”
Despite its concerns in Fox Chapel’s statement, the district says, “We believe that the Safe2Say Something program definitely has value, and we know it has saved lives.”