The second annual Safe2Say Something report shows the most anonymous tips made to the unsafe school activity crisis management center in 2019-20 were regarding mental health issues.
"While the COVID-19 pandemic has kept students from vital parts of the child safety net, young people across Pennsylvania have continued to rely on Safe2Say to report life-saving tips," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
The state launched the 24-hour center to handle tips sent online or called into the hotline regarding potentially unsafe activities at schools, including threats of violence, bullying and self-harm.
According to the report, of the 23,745 tips made during the year, the most were to report bullying and cyberbullying, with 3,608 tips. Another 2,576 calls were about suicide and 2,139 tips involved cutting and self-harm.
The center experienced an increase in life safety tips while students were studying from home at the start of the pandemic, according to the report.
From July 2019 to March 13, 2020, 17 percent of tips involved life safety matters such as suicide and self-harm. After mid-March, those types of calls accounted for 37 percent of all the tips.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that the mental health of our students needs to be one of our overriding priorities," said state Sen. Pat Browne. "The 2019-20 annual report shows that while schools have faced unprecedented disruptions caused by the pandemic, Safe2Say continues to assist students and young adults who find themselves in crisis."
In addition to last year's recommendation for more mental health services in Pennsylvania schools, the Safe2Say staff recommends funding for innovative child safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is encouraging to see that our students and communities continue to use Safe2Say Something as a means to help maintain safety in our schools. This program and the data it provides are critical to understanding where we must devote our resources and support in the Legislature, especially as we focus on addressing the trauma and mental health needs of our children," said state Sen. Vince Hughes.
Tips may be submitted by students and community members to the website at www.Safe2Saypa.org, through the Safe2Say Something app or by telephone at 844-Safe2Say (844-723-2729).