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Tip Lines for School Safety: A National Portrait of Tip Line Use

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2020
16 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a survey on tip lines for school safety, which are structured systems that enable students, parents, school staff, or community members to use a variety of means to report information on perceived potential threats to school safety.

The survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,226 school principals to determine the prevalence of tip lines for school safety, types of schools that are more likely to use tip lines, ways in which tip lines are designed and implemented, challenges of operating tip lines, and perceived effectiveness of tip lines. The survey found that 51 percent of public middle and high schools currently have a tip line. Over half of tip lines ae staffed or monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; a staff member receives calls, texts, or other entries in real time. Most calls are anonymous. Principals perceive tip lines to be an effective school safety strategy; 50 percent report prevented violent incidents from tip lines, and two-thirds believed tip lines enabled their schools to respond more effectively to bullying. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported that tip lines had prevented incidents of self-harm or suicide. The most common challenges in operating tip lines were 1) receiving tips with insufficient information for preventive action; 2) increasing student awareness and use of tip lines; 3) identifying false or bogus submissions; 4) receiving tips for situations that are not within the scope of school security; and 5) raising community awareness of the existence, purpose, and scope of tip lines for school safety. 17 figures

Date Published: February 1, 2020