Anonymous app aims to keep UT students safe

Feb 15, 2018, 5:30 PM | Updated: 11:00 pm

SANDY – In communities across the country today, students, teachers and parents are talking about how to stop a school shooting before it happens at one of their schools. Police and school administrators in Utah remind all of us that if we see something suspicious, we should say something.

Students at Alta High School in Sandy, UT are taking that lesson to heart. They’re using the SafeUT app to say something when they see something, and they do it anonymously.

“I feel safe when I come to school,” said Lilah Bowles, a senior at Alta High School. “But it is something that I worry about.”

When Bowles heard about the school shooting Wednesday, her first thought was about the safety of her own school.

“I just wanted to know of ways we can improve the safety of our school,” said Bowles.

She believes school leaders and parents are doing everything they can to find ways to prevent shootings and make students feel welcome.

Two years ago, to help answer that need, state educators launched the Safe UT Crisis Text and Tip Line to provide real-time crisis intervention through texting and confidential tips.

“When they report a tip, they can do it anonymously,” said Brian McGill, principal of Alta High School.

Licensed clinicians respond around the clock to meet needs for crisis counseling and suicide prevention.  The school gets a real-time feedback report and the principal gets a text and email.

“You want kids to come in and report issues so we can take care of them immediately and effectively,” said McGill.

The Alta Principal said those notifications from the app have alerted him to students in crisis who he was able to check on right away.

“If I’m walking through the hall and see someone really distressed or know someone is not doing well I can refer them to the app,” said Nick Bergstrom, a sophomore at Alta High School.

Students can also use the Safe UT app to report suspicious or frightening activity they see in person or online.  About one quarter of the tips that the district receives are related to suspicious activity, and school leaders have used that information to check out potential problems.

“If they see something that is a little strange, a little out of whack, or out of the norm, the students have been good about reporting that in, so we can get to it right away,” said McGill.

Alta High School in Sandy received recognition for widespread engagement with the Safe UT app

The students like the fact that it’s confidential, and they can use texting.

“If we see someone suspicious, if we see someone being bullied, something looking out of place, it’s a really serious thing, and so I think the students can really see that,” said Bowles.

Alta High School was the first school to launch the app and regularly shares it with students in assemblies.  Last month, the school was recognized for it’s widespread engagement on the app.

“I just like it because it makes you feel like they have a chance,” said Bergstrom.

Click here for more information about the Safe UT app.


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Anonymous app aims to keep UT students safe