Programs helps prevent bullying and threats in Missouri schools

Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Even though students have not been in the classroom for months, administrators, teachers, and law enforcement are still concerned about their safety.

As students in Missouri head back to the classroom in August, there’s an app they can download that allows them to anonymously report bullying or a threat. It’s called “Courage2Report.”

Director of counseling at Neosho School District Tracy Clements says this program can be used for any concern at a school. She says the app even saved the life of one of her students.

“He called a friend and said that he was considering suicide and so that friend told her parents and her parents called the hotline,” Clements said. “Without this program, we would’ve missed it.”

Clements has been a counselor for 25 years and said it’s now harder for students to get away from bullying.

“Before social media, when you went home from school and you were with your family, you were away from bullying,” Clements said. “Now, teenagers especially, aren’t ever able to shut down and get away from it with online bullying and in-person bullying.”

Resource Officer at the California School District Deputy Scott Harkins said the program, “Courage2Report,” allowed him and other school administrators to know about a bomb threat.

“We had an incident where a middle school student was making suicidal comments and then also making comments that he was going to blow up the school,” Harkins said.

Thanks to the app, hotline and online reporting, another student was able to report the threat.

“The student was talking to another student through a gaming system,” Harkins said. “That student then talked to his parents and his parents reported it to the local law enforcement and they also reported it to ‘Courage2Report.'”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Department of Social Services and the Missouri School Board Association released the program last year and it’s free for schools.

“Research shows when it comes to an active intruder or active threats to a school, those kids that are going to do it will 80% of the time tell somebody,” Harkins said. “For students to have something that they can go to believing that it’s confidential and report you get a lot more valid, truthful reports.”

Clements said the confidentiality helps students come forward.

“A lot of kids are concerned that they may see bullying going on, but they don’t want to approach it directly because they’re afraid of retaliation,” Clements said.

The program works like this. First the parent or student reports the problem on the app, hotline or online. The administration, school resource officer, local law enforcement and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are notified of the report. Then they can take action to stop the threat and offer services to the student.

There were more than 500 tips submitted to the “Courage2Report” from public, private and charter schools in Missouri this year.

The program manager, Cindy Klausner, said every school in the state is registered on the program.

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