Mom calls for reform after Safe2Tell used to bully her daughter more than a dozen times

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The past year has been frustrating for Robin Adams. The mother of two girls wants to do everything she can to protect her daughters, but lately has been feeling helpless.

"We don't know what to do about the situation," Adams said. "There's nowhere to turn. We can't go to the school about it because they can't give you information."

Adams says bullies are using Safe2Tell, an anonymous platform for reporting concerns in Colorado schools, to bully her 14-year-old daughter. She says her daughter was the subject of 13 tips in middle school, and the bullying was bad enough that she took online classes to start High School.

After attending Englewood High School in person for the past couple weeks, the tips started up again, including one claiming her daughter was selling drugs out of her backpack, which led to a search.

"One of the most disturbing ones was when I was told that my daughter was prostituting herself out in the school," Adams said.

Englewood Schools Superintendent Wendy Rubin says the district has to follow up with every tip under the law, and their hands are tied because the reporters are anonymous.

"It's heartbreaking frankly," Rubin said. "And it feels really awful not to be able to necessarily do anything substantive to stop those reports, because we just don't know who's following them."

Rubin and Adams both praised the premise of the platform, saying it's a wonderful resource for school communities when used for the right reasons.

Most people are using Safe2Tell properly. According to Safe2Tell's annual report, it breaks up improper uses of the platform into: prank tips, misuse tips, and false tips.

Between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018, there were 16,000 tips sent to Safe2Tell.

Only 528 (3.3 percent) of those were considered false, defined as "deliberately providing false information to harm, injure or bully another person."

In that report, Safe2Tell has recommendations for reducing the improper uses, including following up with schools and law enforcement when Safe2Tell is used to bully or harass other students, and placing alerts on the Safe2Tell database.

These recommendations are part of recent legislation creating new duties for Safe2Tell and mandating an annual report.

But even if false tips are a small percentage of the total use, Adams believes there should still be consequences, or even a way to find out who is providing knowingly false information.

"If they're not using it in an honest way, they shouldn't be using it anyways," Adams said.

In a statement from the Attorney General's office, a spokesperson said:

“Safe2Tell is a successful violence intervention and prevention program that gives young people a mechanism to report threats to their safety or the safety of others. The anonymous nature of the reporting system provides an important outlet for potential life-saving information to be shared, and improves safety in schools and communities.

“We are committed to working with parents, students, school officials, and local law enforcement to encourage the appropriate use of the anonymous reporting system and to avoid false tips. To the extent Safe2Tell receives reports that are given in bad faith, we are open to considering appropriate legislative solutions.”

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