THORNTON, Colo. — The start of the new school year has one 14-year-old student warning about false reports to Colorado’s Safe2Tell system.
The program provides students an anonymous way to call, text or email authorities about acts of bullying, illegal drug use, suicide concerns, threats and other issues. But a soon-to-be high school freshman in the Jefferson County School District said she’s been falsely accused four times in the last nine months.
“We had a Thornton officer come to my house at midnight saying that somebody made a Safe2Tell report that I was going to commit suicide,” said the female student, whose identity FOX31 has agreed to protect out of concerns of more bullying.
“Yes, it’s a good program if it’s used correctly. But if people are out to cyber-bully kids, there needs to be repercussions if it’s a false report,” she said.
The program’s anonymity is why it’s hard to hold anyone accountable for fake tips made to intentionally make a kid look bad.
“Last week, we had two Thornton police officers come to the house saying that somebody made a report saying that I was posting somebody’s nudes on social media,” said the 14-year-old.
Thornton police quickly cleared the girl after searching her phone with her parents’ permission, but she said the event was still traumatic.
“I couldn’t stop crying because I was scared,” she said.
“We saw an increase of 30 percent in our tips volume for the year,” said Essi Ellis, the director of Colorado’s Safe2Tell program.
The state received 19,861 reports in the 2018-19 school year but the number of false tips decreased from 3.3% to 2.45%, accounting for a total 541 false tips.
“Students are learning the proper use of the system and wanting to empower themselves and their peers to make good, informed reports to the Safe2Tell program,” said Ellis.
But the incoming freshman finds it hard to believe the percentage of false reports is shrinking.
“I don’t believe false reports are down because just last year I’ve had four reports made against me that were false,” she said.
The added that she knows of friends at her middle school who were also the target of false reports.
However, the student admits there is no easy solution since the Safe2Tell system prides itself on being anonymous.