Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today joined Cadillac Superintendent Julie Brown and Paul Liebenow of the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association at Mackinaw Trail Middle School in Cadillac to talk about his new OK2SAY Student Ambassador Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to help students bring kindness, inclusion, and awareness activities and ideas into schools in Michigan.
“OK2SAY is such an important program and the students are what makes it work so well,” said Schuette. “Student ambassadors will be able to serve as leaders to their peers and help spread the word about our safety initiative.”
The Student Ambassador Initiative is a pledge that students can take to commit to being a leader in their school, to make school a place where all students feel safe and know that OK2SAY is there when they do not. The goal is to encourage students to set an example to their fellow classmates to treat everyone with respect, encourage kindness and understanding.
The OK2SAY website has resources for students who wish to act as student ambassadors, including OK2SAY specific activities to share at school, as well as ideas of how to fight bullying and be more inclusive with student peers.
While in Cadillac, Schuette also highlighted the continued importance of reporting to OK2SAY in the summer months.
“Unfortunately, we know that just because school is out for the summer does not mean that students are free from bullying or thoughts of self-harm, just to name a few,” said Schuette. “This is why I remind students and schools every year that OK2SAY is still accepting tips all through the summer. When help is needed, OK2SAY is always there no matter the time of year.”
May 2018 OK2SAY TIPS
In May 2018, OK2SAY technicians received 707 tips for Michigan students bringing the total number of tips for 2018 to 3,453. Total OK2SAY tips from September 2014 through the end of May reached 14,187. May 2018 was the second busiest month in program history with only March 2018 receiving more tips.
The top tip categories were as follows:
- Suicide Threats (186);
- Bullying (129);
- Drugs (77);
- Other (eg., anxiety, stress, depression, harassment) (41); and
- Self-harm (47).
THE KEY FEATURES OF OK2SAY
In-school Programming: Thirty-one specialized OK2SAY presenters visit schools around the state to encourage students to step up, speak out, and report anything that threatens their safety or the safety of others.
- Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person about whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. If the reporter is a minor, the parent or guardian must also consent.
- Comprehensive Technology: Anyone can confidentially submit tips 24/7 using any of the five tip methods detailed below. Multi-media attachments like photos, videos, and links to additional information are encouraged.
- Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians at the Michigan State Police screen and forward tips to an appropriate responding agency including: local law enforcement, schools, local community mental health organizations, or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
- Accountability: Each responding organization is asked to complete an Outcome Report detailing the nature of the tip, how the tip was handled, and whether the tip situation was resolved or requires ongoing attention. This provides local entities an opportunity to illustrate that student safety threats are tracked and taken seriously.
The 2016 Annual Report details the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year. The 2017 Annual Report will be released later this month.
HOW TO SUBMIT AN OK2SAY TIP
OK2SAY encourages confidential tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, and schools. Tips can be submitted through the following ways:
Call: 8-555-OK2SAY, 855-565-2729
Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)
OK2SAY website: ok2say.com
OK2SAY Mobile App: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android.
Attorney General Schuette holds up the OK2SAY Student Ambassador Pledge when visiting Mackinaw Trail Middle School in Cadillac.
Attorney General Bill Schuette is joined by Paul Liebenow of the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association and Julie Brown, Cadliiac Schools Superintendent at Mackinac Trail Middle school to talk about the new OK2SAY Ambassador Program.