Anonymous Reporting: Your School Community Needs a Safe Way to Speak Up
The absence of in-school learning has made it even more difficult to provide support for staff and students who are struggling in your community. While your threat assessment teams may be able to operate remotely, less face-to-face interaction makes threat identification much more challenging, limiting your ability to help those on a path to harm or acts of violence.
Providing proactive threat prevention tools such as anonymous tip reporting is an excellent way to ensure your community can safely communicate the issues or behaviors they are noticing. Integrating these tools with a comprehensive behavioral threat assessment program will empower your threat assessment teams to cast a wider net of support, allow them to investigate more credible threats, and intervene with resources for individuals in need.
In this post, we will cover the five benefits of adding anonymous reporting as a part of your threat assessment process to enhance violence- and harm-prevention initiatives, while building upon your school’s culture of safety.
What is Anonymous Tip Reporting?
Anonymous tip reporting allows your community members to safely share information regarding concerning behaviors, suicidal thoughts, drug abuse or criminal activity. Tips are usually monitored in collaboration with local law enforcement, school staff members and community-based health organizations.
As you will see, the usefulness of anonymous tip reporting increases when paired with a comprehensive school behavioral threat assessment program.
How Schools Use Anonymous Reporting
Anonymous tip reporting is vital to an effective school safety strategy. Students, staff and community members can report tips about a student’s concerning behavior via a mobile app, Web-based platform or telephone hotline 24 hours a day.
The best schools are diligent in monitoring, vetting and responding to all tips, and they educate their community about the importance of tip reporting so that everyone buys into the process and uses the resource appropriately. These schools also offer anonymous 2-way communication so that education leaders can ask more questions of the tip reporter, if needed.
Did you know?
Research indicates that for most incidents of targeted school violence, attackers communicate their intentions to someone before carrying out the attack. In many cases, an individual witnessed concerning behavior from a student before an attack but did not report it either out of fear or because they mistakenly assumed the attacker was not serious.
Therefore, anonymous tip reporting is critical to keeping a finger on the pulse of your community. Allowing individuals to report tips anonymously gives them confidence that they can share their concerns safely.
What is a Comprehensive Behavioral Threat Assessment Program?
Behavioral threat assessments help schools maintain a positive and safe culture for both students and staff. These procedures enable schools to identify and address a student’s concerning behavior, ideally well before these behaviors escalate to violence.
Threat assessments were developed by the U.S. Secret Service more than 20 years ago to identify individuals who pose threats to U.S. officials. Over time, the U.S. government learned that similar assessments could benefit schools by equipping them with an objective, streamlined process with which they can recognize, evaluate, and address students’ concerning behaviors – from obvious threatening behaviors such as bringing a weapon to school to less obvious ones such as declining grades, increased isolation or changes in appearance.
The goal of school behavioral threat assessment is to get troubled students the help they need long before their conduct becomes threatening or violent. Research has shown that these assessments decrease racial disparities in punishment and help to build a strong culture of safety in which students and staff members can reach their full potential and thrive.
5 Benefits of Pairing Anonymous Tip-Reporting Into Your School’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Program
As effective as anonymous tip reporting is, schools need to know what to do with reported information once they have it in their midst. Behavioral threat assessment takes information gleaned from tip lines a step further by using it to identify areas in which a troubled student needs assistance, as well as whether that student poses a serious threat to school safety.
Incorporating anonymous tip reporting into a comprehensive threat assessment program achieves the following:
- Provides an objective and streamlined approach for documenting, addressing and assessing reported tips so that schools can identify students who pose a potential threat to the school community.
- Facilitates the vetting of reported tips by ensuring that all reports are evaluated by school leaders who are trained to handle behavioral threat assessment.
- Establishes repeatable assessment procedures to ensure fairness and consistency in evaluating reported tips.
- Strengthens your school’s culture of safety by getting students the help they need when they need it before their behavior intensifies.
- Lets your community know that you take reported tips seriously and are diligent in maintaining a safe school environment in which everyone can thrive.
Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Behavioral Threat Assessment Initiatives
Threat assessment programs are effective ways to ensure individuals of concern receive appropriate intervention and support, helping you foster a culture of safety for your school. As we’ve discussed, anonymous tip reporting can elevate these programs, allowing you to source valuable, life-saving information directly from your community. While they do require more attention and training, they prove to be an essential tool for building trust and providing safe places for individuals to speak up.
Enhance Your School’s Culture of Safety with Effective Behavioral Threat Assessment
Don’t know where to start with your anonymous reporting and threat assessment program? Download our new Threat Assessment Starter Kit. This resource outlines the essential steps you need to take to set up a program, build a team, collect reports of concern, and provides additional training materials to help you plan for implementation.