Safe2Tell: The Good, The Bad and The Nasty

Safe2Tell. It’s an anonymous tip line here in the State of Colorado. The website says that you can “anonymously report anything that concerns or threatens you, your friends, your family or your community.”

Safe2Tell is an amazing program if used for it’s intended purposes. However, because it’s anonymous, it can be abused.

Again, my kid was a cutter. From December to March she was actively cutting  (wow, it seems like it was a much longer period of time) . Her cuts were a series of deep scratches along her upper thigh or arms. According to the counselor, that’s how cutters start and “good on you for catching it early before it escalated.” Honestly, I would have rather it never happened but I can’t change the past.

The school counselor during that time was getting reports left and right on my kid.  Not just through the Safe2Tell program, but also some of her friends at school.  Now, I love that people were concerned for my kid.  I love that they were looking out for her well-being. What I didn’t love is that I wasn’t regularly made aware of what was going on. Apparently, my kid was getting called into the counselors office several times a week on concerns that she was self-harming. I was not told about most of their meetings. What also bugs me is that the school counselor was made aware that my kid was in therapy. There was in incident at the beginning of the school year that prompted us to put her in therapy and thus notify the school counselor about it.

Now all of this anonymous reporting on her came to a head when the police department showed up at my door. Oh you read that right, the police.  They were doing a welfare check on my kid because of a Safe2Tell tip they received.  The clincher is that she wasn’t home at the time, she was spending the night at a friend’s house. Now when the 5-O showed up at my house, I informed them that my kid was in counseling.  That they had put her on meds. That I do random body checks and I’d know if she had any new marks. That no my kid was not suicidal. She was flagged by a psychologist to not be suicidal but she was diagnosed as having depression and anxiety with impulse control problems. I told them all of that with my heart racing and sweaty palms. I mean the cops showed up at my house!  That never happens to me. The last time cops showed up at my door was when we first moved to Colorado and apparently the previous occupant of our apartment was a wanted criminal. But I digress.  Did you know that because it was a welfare check that they had to see my kid for themselves? So they had to go over to her friend’s house to check on her. Oy vay!

That incident prompted me to not only call my kid’s therapist but also to email the school counselor. Police showing up at my door was the last straw. The counselor and I had already been going back and forth all week about “reporting” and Safe2Tell on my kid. I was so fed up  that I was ready to pull my kid from school and home school her the rest of the year. I honestly believed that someone was using the system to harass my kid. And as you can imagine, for someone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, this was probably the least constructive thing that can happen.  Now I’m not a naive parent by any means. I know that my kid could have said something or done something that prompted someone to contact Safe2Tell. She could have said something to one person and the telephone game started. At that point she had healing/scabbing over cuts on her wrists and arms that someone could have seen. Who knows. But to have her in the counselor’s office regularly and then the police showing up was a bit sketchy to me. I can’t get upset for them investigating. It’s their job. If she was suicidal and they got a report and didn’t investigate they are liable. I get it.

Now the good that came out of this was that it prompted the counselor to reevaluate the way she approached my kid about the reports she was getting.  She started to call me about any reports she received and then I could handle it from there. She decided that if these reports were a product of using the system to harass my kid, then the perpetrator wouldn’t see her getting pulled out of class all the time and then stop. Amazingly once we adopted this new way of approaching things, the reports pretty much stopped. However, even with how well my kid is doing now, the reports have started up again. It started with a report a few weeks ago of my kid cutting herself from her shoulder to her wrist which was a completely false report. The person who reported it said the marks they saw were fresh so of course I freak out and immediately body check her when she gets home. She was completely devoid of new marks. So you can imagine that I was LIVID. I emailed the counselor and told her that whoever reported that was a big fat liar and how was she going to handle that. Because hello, a kid cutting from shoulder to wrist is a very severe accusation. I also informed her that two days prior to the report, she ended a toxic “friendship”. I didn’t know for sure that had anything to do with it but I had my suspicions. The counselor assured me that she would take care of it. I never heard back from her.

Now last week, twice, I heard from the police department. I guess the deal we have with the counselor is notated in their system. So they decided to call me as well and inform me of a Safe2Tell they received on her.  Now I had just body checked her earlier that day and I told them that she was doing well.  That she had no new cuts. That her grades are up. That she’s doing so well that they are going to phase her out of counseling.  I also informed them of the false report we had several weeks prior. So now if the report deals with self harm, they call me. When I got the second phone call from the police that week, the officer informed me that he was aware I thought someone was using the system but there really wasn’t much they could do because the tips are anonymous. But he was going to get in touch with his Sargent and see if there was some sort of solution.  I haven’t heard back from him yet.

I want to make it clear that I am absolutely not against the Safe2Tell program in any way. I think it’s a fantastic program when people use it with its intended purpose in mind. It’s a program that should only be used if you have a true genuine concern for the safety of yourself or others. It is not intended to be used as a means to harass someone through official channels. The problem is that it is anonymous so if someone wanted to abuse the system, they can without the fear that they will get in trouble. The counselor may not pull my kid into the office and the police may not show up at my door, but the phone calls are just as stressful. I see my kids shoulders slump whenever I get another one of those phone calls.  It’s discouraging to her spirit.  So this is what I told her.

“Satan knows that you are on the right path. He knows that you are doing well and he wants to discourage you and break you. But instead of letting it, use this as a confirmation that you are doing everything you are supposed to. Be encouraged knowing that you are exactly where God wants you to be right now.”

 

**If you have a genuine concern for the safety of yourself or others and you live in the State of Colorado, the Safe2Tell hotline number is  1-877-542-7233.

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