By Lia Chen ’20
“Say Something,” an app designed as a platform to anonymously to report threats, will launch on Oct. 5 to Staples students.
According to Sandy Hook Promise, the developers of the app, “Say Something” will allow students to submit “secure and anonymous safety concerns to help identify and intervene upon at-risk individuals before they hurt themselves or others.” Student comfort was a clear priority in the decision to launch the app.
Students will be able to submit reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including after school hours. If a life-threatening situation arises after school, it will be referred to the police department or others who are able to respond to the situation, while a team of school faculty dedicated to addressing such issues will receive a phone call and a text. If a report about a non-life-threatening is received after school, school faculty will be notified about it the next morning.
“Whether it’s a mental health concern, suicidal ideation, bullying, and other types of mistreatment or neglect, it’s important that [students] feel comfortable reporting it,” Principal James D’Amico said. “Obviously, I hope students always know that they can come to us personally, but if they feel like something is a concern, they should report it, which this app will allow them to do.”
“Say Something” was implemented in response to a security breach Staples received the previous school year, when a student threatened to shoot a teacher and had thoughts about executing a mass shooting at the school.
“We were able to avert that threat because a student came forward and shared information. For our students, our staff, our parents, whoever in the community–if they know something that is concerning, and they want to share it, we want to make that an easier opportunity,” Superintendent Colleen Palmer said.
In preparation for “Say Something’s” release, Staples teachers participated in a training session during their faculty meeting on Oct. 1. Training consisted of a 15-minute video and instruction on how to answer questions students may have about the app.
“[The training] is to raise awareness for them about what the ‘Say Something’ app is, what it does, and what happens when an anonymous report is put in,” D’Amico said.
However, teachers will not play a role in receiving reports. Instead, reports are sent to a crisis center in Miami, Florida where the urgency of the situation is assessed.
Students thought that the app will encourage other students to report situations with less hesitation towards possible subsequent consequences. They also think it will give them an opportunity to communicate issues outside of school in their homes and in the community.
“Many people feel as if they don’t have a person who they can trust to tell them some personal issues they may be going through, or they’re scared of the repercussions which may follow based on based on who they tell, so this anonymous app can really help the Staples community,” Claudia Fernandez ’20 said.
Some Staples students and parents have previously voiced concerns over the possibility of students abusing the app and using it to report pranks and fake threats.
“I can see people ‘memeing’ it, like just making reports about unnecessary things and lying about things,” Gaspar Olea ’19 said.
However, much of the concern among staff and students regarding the app was centered around the influx of reports that are anticipated to come, especially within the first few days of the app’s launch.
“The only problem I can see is just an overabundance of people thinking threats that aren’t threats coming in,” School Resource Officer Ed Wooldridge said.
As “Say Something” goes into use, the types of reports received will be discussed with the School Climate Committee, and if needed a follow up will be done with the whole faculty. The administration hopes to improve the performance of the app after they acquire more experience with incorporating it into Staples’ culture.
“As long as everybody is making sure that we continue to build a culture where there’s a lot of concern for each other, whether they are making a report or are on the fence about it, and keeps that concern about others and the community in the center of their minds, then they will eventually be led to the right answer,” D’Amico said.