Physical Safety | News
Pennsylania District Takes Texted Anonymous Tips
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A school district in Pennsylvania has introduced a "text-a-tip" hotline in its high school that allows students to communicate with safety people or other school officials. Funded by a $1,600 donation from the local Rotary Club, Elizabeth Area School District in Elizabethtown, added the service to "foster an environment that is safe and conductive for learning."
The new program uses TipSoft, a service from CrimeReports.
The service allows students who have concerns about their own safety or the well being of other students to send messages anonymously to "CRIMES" or 274637 using the keyword "Etown". On the receiving end, the message goes to a special access number that encrypts the sending number so that the text remains anonymous. The tipster is also issued an alias based on his or her phone number in order to do follow-up texting. That also allows the recipient of the message to communicate with the student, who may choose to respond or not to follow-up inquiries.
On a student-targeted Web page, the district encouraged students to use the service to "report information about any non-urgent illegal activity such as vandalism, theft, the sale of drugs or information about crimes that are being planned. Students who discover information on social networking sites like Facebook or YouTube and anonymously text a tip could help prevent a tragedy."
"The popularity of text messaging has created a significant opportunity for our students to help our district stay safe," said Rick Farnsler, school resource officer for the district. "We are excited to have this Text-A-Tip hotline in place."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.