author Marlee Hirson, Wednesday March 9, 2016

There’s been an alarming amount of school shootings in the past six months, which raises a discussion on how to better prevent school shootings and attacks. The article “Averting Tragedy Before It Occurs” published by Inside Higher Ed focuses on what institutions can do to stop acts of violence before they occur.

The Power of Reporting

If a safety threat is reported, campus police and mental health professionals step in to assess the situation. The article gives an example from Hartnell College in Salinas, California, where a safety threat was averted by student reporting. An individual informed the police that a student was planning to bring a gun on campus. Campus police and mental health authorities were then able to quickly detain the individual, who was found to be a legitimate threat to the University.

If a student feels comfortable reporting dangerous or unusual behavior, police and mental health professionals can become involved and the situation can be investigated before any violence occurs.

Removing Barriers

More attacks and threats can be avoided if more students are willing to report suspicious activities or individuals. The article outlines some of the barriers that deter students from reporting threats to campus police.

These barriers include distrust for authority figures, being seen as a “snitch”, fear of being targeted by the reported individual, worrying about the outcome for the reported individual, and that their report won’t be taken seriously. But these barriers are removed if students feel connected to their campus and comfortable with campus security authority.

Connecting Digitally

If instilling a sense of connection between students and their campus police departments can encourage students to report, then institutions should act on this during a student’s first year. But this connection can happen digitally through your campus’s mobile safety app. As an example, our mobile safety app platform has a “Chat with Dispatch” feature that allows students to message dispatchers anonymously to request help or report a tip.

The anonymity of Chat with Dispatch eliminates some of the mentioned barriers around reporting. It gives the end user a sense of immediate impact as they’re chatting in real time with a real person who can relay the information as needed.

Encouraging students to report can make a huge difference to your campus’s safety. Serious incidents can be avoided entirely, as well as tragedies when an individual is a danger to themselves. Having your campus’s safety contacts available for students to access anytime is a powerful tool to keep students safe.

What are your experiences with student reporting? What are some ways to encourage students to report suspicious behavior? Comment below and let us know what you think!

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