This article was originally written by Jon Kipper on May 27, 2022 and posted on 3newsnow.com.
School safety is on the forefront of nearly every parent's mind right now and it's something that Nebraska schools have recently honed in on using technology.
The Safe 2 Help app started in the Omaha area. It was so widely successful that its use was expanded across the state.
1,300 reports have been made so far, some of which may have quietly saved lives.
“We are excited because yes, we are making a difference," said Jolene Palmer, Director of School Safety for the Nebraska Department of Education.
After legislative approval last year, the app is available to every school in Nebraska.
Palmer said the app gives voice to the voiceless and is 100% anonymous, which can be an especially helpful feature for rural schools.
“Everybody knows who comes out of the principal's office, everybody knows who comes out of a counselor's office and then there's a little bit of hubbub and then they start talking to students and everybody knows then who has told," said Palmer.
The way it works is simple.
Students, staff and individual can make a report on the app. The report then goes to experts at Boys Town who decide whether it's a life-threatening matter and tell law enforcement, or simply inform school staff.
Palmer said the expertise of Boys Town is key.
“It is a natural fit that they have been phenomenal partners."
The most frequent reports are mental health-related issues, suicide concerns and bullying, but Boys Town has received dozens of reported threats as well: some of which were deemed credible.
“We know that six of them actually ended up being credible threats and were thwarted," said Palmer.
All schools located within Sarpy County have another way to report potential threats to school safety called "TIPS," which schools receive directly and can relay to law enforcement if the threat could be life-threatening.