Hotline allows reporting threats made against any students

By Bri’On Whiteside - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

The Ohio Department of Public Safety has a free hotline for student safety threats which can be used even as many students studying remotely.

The Safer Ohio School Tip Line is offered by the Ohio School Safety Center — established by Gov. Mike DeWine in August 2019, to support first responders, schools, and communities in preventing, preparing, and ultimately responding to acts of violence and threats.

The tip line is monitored on a 24-hour basis and allows students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety — including incidents involving the masses or a single student.

Local school districts including Toledo Public Schools and Perrysburg Schools use the service.

Heather Baker, Toledo executive director of student intervention and support, said the hotline is among various programs the district uses to combat bullying and other issues that are often not reported directly to school authorities or guardians. She added that the district partners with the Lucas County Sheriff’s office for anonymous tips regarding the safety of TPS students and staff.

“This is another layer and it’s so important that our families have a way of reporting bullying through virtual channels anonymously,” Ms. Baker said.

Ms. Baker said the district has been challenged with reassessing its methods of reporting incidents amid the pandemic and remote learning.

“We want to be ready and armed to be looking for those signs even in a virtual world,” she said.

Lucas County Children Service Director of Social Service Donna Seed said the hotline does not directly assist with the department’s case referrals. However, she said that the department has received fewer reports since the pandemic as a result of remote learning.

“Children can be very invisible within their home systems. We have to rely on neighbors or families if we do not have an open case. We know that while they report, it is not with the same frequency as mandated reporters,” she said.

The hotline can be accessed by texting or calling 844-723-3764.

By Bri’On Whiteside

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

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