Tulsa Public Schools have launched an online anti-bullying tool that will encourage students, teachers and staff anonymously report bullying and incidents as part of the school district's ongoing battle with bullying in the community.
The district will launch TIPS – Threat Assessment, Incident Management and Prevention Services – in January 2012. Through TIPS reporting of weapons possession, drug/alcohol use, harassment or intimidation, school vandalism, physical assault, threats of violence, suicide risk, abuse or neglect and other incidents will be carried out in complete confidence.
The TIPS system was developed by the bullying awareness group Awareity. Along with the program, a grant of nearly $22,000 was presented by a private donor group.
"At Tulsa Public Schools, we know that learning and high student achievement is only going to be accomplished in an environment that is safe for our students," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent.
"Our teachers and staff are ever vigilant, but you can't prevent situations you don't know about. TIPS will provide us with one more way for students, teachers, parents and members of the community to alert us to potential problems – either inside or outside our schools. Then we can be proactive and intervene appropriately, whether it's suspected bullying, harassment or fear that a student might take their own life. We care deeply about providing the safest possible environment for our children."
The TIPS website works by allowing users to identify the school and to select from the various types of incidents, date/time, identities of the person or persons being reported, and any victims or potential victims, along with a description, while still maintaining complete anonymity.
TIPS designated teams will be placed at each school and the district office and will automatically be notified of certain types of reports. Team members can then create a record of recommendations and actions taken, keeping track of which members view and add to the record and notifying members of new information.
The TIPS teams consist of school counselors, the principal and other administrators, as well as TPS police and local law enforcement and other valuable resources.
"Given the size of the Tulsa metro area and the number of neighboring school districts, there is the potential for some of this reporting activity to cross school boundaries," said Rick Shaw, CEO and president of Awareity.
"We are hopeful that other districts will come on board so we can have the strongest impact possible on making Tulsa schools even safer than they are today."