The state’s confidential OK2SAY hotline for students received fewer tips last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the state.
Volume was down by 42% over 2019, but tips for things like cyberbullying and sexual misconduct went up.
“The type of tips that are coming in are really, very serious.” — Mary Gager Drew, OK2SAY Program Administrator
Mary Gager Drew, the program administrator for OK2SAY, says despite the overall number of tips being down, some categories saw an increase.
“Suicide tips are up 3%, mental health was up 5%, cyberbullying up 5%, sexual misconduct up 5%,” says Gager Drew. “So the type of tips that are coming in are really very serious.”
Gager Drew says often the tips are the first indication of a problem that adults are often oblivious to.
“One of the findings that we found interesting this year is that when we were passing on information to a school, 73% of the time that was new information; the school was unaware of a situation that was happening,” she says.
Historically, concerns about someone being suicidal has been the number one tip to the hotline. This year, it accounted for nearly a quarter of the tips.
With a return to in-person learning, the number of tips is expected to increase.
“Getting kids back into schools where we can remind them about the importance of the program. That’s the key,” Gager Drew says. “As soon as we finish a presentation, we can anticipate that tips are starting to come in from that school because what we are doing is empowering kids to step up and speak up and get helped if they’re friends.”