Parents Weigh in on New Crimestoppers App that Lets Students Report School Threats

Students in Rapides Parish have a new way to anonymously report school, criminal or mental health concerns.  It is an app made available by Crimestoppers and it goes live this week to select schools in the parish.  ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey has more about the program.

The Safe Schools Louisiana app by Crimestoppers is a way for students to anonymously report threats, guns, drugs, bullying, sexting, suicidal thoughts and dangerous activity on or around their campuses.

Danielle Bennett has a middle school teen, and she can’t wait for the app to be available for her.

“It will help these kids know that they do have a voice.  They can be heard without having to say their name because I just remember from 30 years ago if I said something it always came back on me.  So, I know that that would help it in that term being anonymous, anonymous is a big deal.”

Meghan Adam is also a mom to a middle schooler.  She likes the fact that the reporting is anonymous.

“I think students are a little leery to actually call people out for things that they do.  And I think an app where they can anonymously do that would greatly help them.”

Rapides Parish School Board Executive Assistant Superintendent of Administration Clyde Washington is overseeing the program as it rolls out in Rapides Parish.

“I think the program gives kids voice.  It gives them the opportunity to communicate something that has been brought to their attention.”

The app is currently live at Bolton High, Peabody High, Brame Middle School and Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet.  It will soon be available for Alexandria Senior High and Pineville High School.

State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley says that most of the time students know in advance when an incident occurs, and this system will give them the opportunity to report it.

“Overwhelmingly when something bad has happened at a school such as a shooting someone has known that something wasn’t right in advance of that happening and did not report. And so we simply want to take this opportunity to provide an easy resource .”

Greater New Orleans President and CEO Darlene Cusanza said this tool will allow tips to be shared when students hear of information from each other.

“What we know from Crimestoppers is that kids tell each other.  They talk to each other about what they are hearing, what their plans are.  In suicide threats 67 percent of the kids who are threatening suicide or self-harm they are going to tell their friends before they tell an adult.”

Only seven percent of tips reported have dealt with guns, knives or shooting threats.  Most of the tips reported, 32 percent, have been bullying, cyberbullying or harassment.  Bennett says the app will allow reporting about incidents that happen on social media.

“I didn’t really have to worry about cyberbullying back in my day because we didn’t have social media and we didn’t have cell phones.  It was a lot calmer back then, but we have to adapt to the times, and I feel like this is going to help so many children especially in junior high.

In the 2021-22 school year there were 16 tips involving guns and 10 tips about planned school attacks.