The blame and finger-pointing continue and the investigations into how something so horrific can happen are just beginning in the aftermath of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which so far have claimed the lives of 17 people – mostly high school students.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered an “immediate review” after the FBI admitted that “protocols were not followed” after tips were received stating that shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz wanted to “kill people” and there was the “potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
On Jan. 5 a person close to Cruz contacted the FBI through its Public Access Line (PAL) tip-line to express concerns about his erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts.
In Michigan, citizens are fortunate to have access to a 24/7 tip line, OK2SAY, which allows anyone to confidentially report tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at Michigan students, school employees, or schools.
What happened in Florida should not deter people from using resources like OK2SAY, which is an important program designed to empower Michigan students, parents, school personnel, community mental health service programs, and law enforcement to share and respond to student safety threats.
In the majority of violent incidents that occur in schools, someone other than the perpetrator of violence knows of a threat before it’s carried out but fails to report it. Often, students choose to keep quiet because they fear retaliation, rejection, or stigmatization by their peers. The result is a culture of silence in which students suffer harm that could have been prevented if another had chosen to speak out.
The goal of OK2SAY is to stop harmful behavior before it occurs by encouraging anyone to report threatening behavior to caring adult authorities who can help. OK2SAY encourages Michigan residents to confidentially submit tips 24/7 using the OK2SAY mobile app, online, email, texting, or by calling trained program technicians.
Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians address the immediate need and forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
OK2SAY is about early intervention and prevention. When students make the courageous decision to break the code of silence and speak out against harmful behavior, they equip authorities with the information needed to respond to threats and avert tragedy. And that’s a good thing for Michigan schools, communities, and families.
For more information, log onto www.michigan.gov/ok2say/