DENVER — While Safe2Tell says it is receiving fewer false tips, some parents are concerned students are using the anonymous platform to bully.
Chris Black discovered his 12-year-old daughter was being bullied through Safe2Tell. Police knocked on his door after he returned from vacation.
“My kid is seeing a counselor because it bothered her so much that somebody would do this to her,” Black said.
Black says someone left several anonymous tips on Safe2Tell saying that his daughter had something she shouldn’t have in her backpack at school.
That night, officers came to their Douglas County home and searched her backpack. They found nothing. Later that week, another tip came in and school administrators had to search his daughter’s locker, only to find nothing again, according to Black.
“Kids are kids,” Black said. “They’re smart enough to know, ‘I can be anonymous and I’m not going to get in trouble.'”
This isn’t the first time a parent has complained about their child being targeted on the anonymous platform. Robin Adams said her daughter received 13 tips about her selling drugs out of her backpack in school, among other allegations. Adams says the tips were vetted and unfounded.
“Schools and law enforcement — because they are the responding entities of those tips — take every tip very seriously,” said Safe2Tell Director Essi Ellis.
Ellis says they’ve had a record year, receiving roughly 30 percent more tips during the 2018-2019 school year than during the previous school year.
Another positive trend: the number of false tips has decreased from 3.3% to 2.45%, accounting for 541 false tips this year out of 19,861 total.
“We’re taking a very positive message from those numbers that students are learning the proper use of that system,” Ellis said.
While a small percentage of students are using the platform to provide false tips and bully their peers anonymously, there are 1,871 tips about bullying in the past year on the platform, accounting for the third-highest category behind suicide threats and drugs. The platform has seen an unusually high number of tips during the summer months, including 29 tips related to cyber-bullying this July.
“Using online platforms to bully or harass another individual is a serious issue and carries legal consequences,” Ellis said in a statement. “We encourage families to continue talking to their children about treating everyone with respect and the long-lasting ramifications of their digital footprint.”