FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Margo Davidson
Davidson safe-school hotline bill passes House
HARRISBURG, June 30 – A safe-schools bill introduced by state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, passed the House of Representatives unanimously today.
Davidson's bill (H.B. 1078) would require the state Education Department to set up a telephone hotline and Internet notification system through which students, parents and others could safely and anonymously report school threats and potential violent situations involving schools to the appropriate authorities.
"This hotline and Internet notification system would allow students, parents, teachers and members of the community to anonymously report incidents or suspected incidents that affect school safety. Often students know before adults where trouble spots are brewing -- they need a safe, easy way to report suspicious events or people in a way that does not expose the person reporting to harm," Davidson said.
Similar programs exist in more than a dozen states, including Alabama, Colorado and Michigan. In Mississippi alone, the hotline has resulted in the recovery of 14 illegal handguns.
"In other states, these hotlines have been successful in not only the prosecution of school-related crime, but also in preventing school crime or violence. Prevention is, of course, the best outcome," Davidson said. "Providing a high-quality education for every child is one of my highest priorities and having a safe place to learn is foundational, a prerequisite to a high-quality education."
Davidson said that upon making initial contact with the Colorado hotline, a staff member assigns the caller a code number used to track the tip information. All tips are immediately investigated by appropriate school and/or law enforcement officials.
Colorado started its hotline in 1999, the year of the Columbine school attack. Since the Colorado hotline's inception, there have been more than 3,000 calls to the line, 744 of which resulted in investigation, early intervention and prevention. These reports have led to 84 arrests, 382 counseling referrals, 343 school disciplinary actions and 328 prevention intervention plans. The Colorado hotline also lists among its accomplishments 27 prevented school attacks.
"My bill would provide a simple, low-cost way to allow people to report threats and prevent attacks on our students and our schools," Davidson said.
School bullying was a focus of Davidson's first forum last year on public safety, which also resulted in the creation of a neighborhood watch in Upper Darby.