The program, established in 2017 and managed by Oregon State Police (OSP), fields hundreds of tips and determines the best way to intervene, given the threat level. If it's a critical problem, a program worker immediately contacts the school or authorities to take action.
According to OSP Central Records Director Coral Smith, nearly 1,200 schools — elementary, middle and high schools — across the state are enrolled in SafeOregon.
"A great thing is a lot of students may see or hear things from friends that are concerning, but there can be a fear of retaliation or being a tattletale," she said. "So, SafeOregon gives them away to do that confidentially. And it also provides a way for students who may not have a trusted teacher, or that safe person in their life that they can still report potentially harmful or concerning behavior."
SafeOregon received 469 tips between September 1, 2021 to November 16, 2021. Of those, 28% of them are tips of bullying and harassment, which includes cyberbullying.
"Now that social media is more prevalent than it was in 2017, we see more tips of screenshots, things like Snapchat and TikTok, and other ways that children are communicating with each other," Smith said.
She reports that tips about fights or threats of violence are only slightly up this fall, compared with last spring.
"We have seen a decrease from the last school year, which was remote, a decrease in tips of suicidal ideation and self-harm. That's really good news. Students returning to school, getting more socialization," Smith explained.
With the return to in-person school, Smith said they're pushing awareness of the program. They're letting more families know this tool is out there and that it works.
"There have been multiple instances that we have been able to save lives just by information from concerned friends or students that may see or hear something," she said.
Find out more about SafeOregon, including a breakdown of statistics from previous years, by clicking here.