SafeOregon receives all kinds of tips, including one that saves a life
Oregon State Police is on the frontlines of the fight against bullying.
It runs SafeOregon, a school safety tip-line and web portal.
Since launching in January 2017, 1,100 Oregon schools with 530,000 students have enrolled in the program, and it has gotten more than 3,000 calls. A third of them were about bullying and harassment.
One call led police to save a teenager in the act of suicide. He’d texted a friend that he was going to kill himself. Two Hermiston police officers rushed to the child’s house, finding him with a belt around his neck.
Lifesaving efforts worked, and the teenager got the mental health counseling he needed.
“That’s really one of the big goals of this is that we can catch these problems early,” said OSP Capt. Tim Fox. “It can really be a changing point for someone who was going down a really bad path to getting the help they need and going down a good path.”
He said bullying reports are the most frequent. But there have also been reports of fighting, theft, school rule violations, gang activity, drug use, child abuse and weapon possession.
“This isn’t an enforcement issue. This isn’t a police issue, always,” Fox said. “A lot of times it’s an administrative issue where if they don’t know the problem, they can’t talk to the kid.”
Sometimes, the student who needs help is the bully.
Said Fox: “What it really does is open up those lines of communication, so we can start asking the questions – you know, ‘Hey, are you having a hard time? Are you bullying people?’”
He said that many times kids will open up and be honest, once someone starts talking to them.
As for the state police involvement, Fox said the department welcomes the work.
“We were really happy that we were given this,” he said. “State police does get a lot of different things given to us from the other parts of government, but this is a program that we really believe in wholeheartedly.”
SafeOregon is a great resource for your kids to have programmed in their phones. It's confidential. They can call 844-472-3367 or email email@example.com.
This story is part of a statewide effort April 7 through April 14 among more than 30 newsrooms to raise awareness and stop the stigma surrounding suicide. The project is called “Breaking the Silence.”
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