CMS to launch ‘Say Something’ youth violence prevention program

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced it will launch the “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System” (SS-ARS) at middle and high schools starting Tuesday.

“Say Something” is a youth violence prevention program from the national nonprofit organization Sandy Hook Promise. The organization has funding, so the program and training are available at no cost to the district.

The program allows students and adults to submit anonymous safety concerns at anytime to help identify at-risk people before they hurt themselves or others. The system enables school administrators and law enforcement to intervene and help prevent violence, suicide, bullying, self-harm and other forms of threatening behavior.

“If a student needs to speak up about a concern -- whether it’s about themselves or someone else -- but they don’t know who to turn to, ‘Say Something’ is here,” said Bo Caldwell, executive director of the Center for Safer Schools. “It’s a robust system that’s always on, always accessible, and it allows students to voice their concerns anonymously while making sure their messages are heard by the right adults.”

Students can submit a tip through the online “Say Something” system by visiting www.saysomething.net. The free app is available for download from the App Store and Google Play Store, and students can submit tips through the hotline by calling 1-844-5-SAYNOW.

The system has the options for students to type in their school, what happened and why they’re concerned. There’s also an option to upload content, like pictures or video.

The National Crisis Center for analysis and response will notify schools when credible tips are received. If there is an immediate threat, the center will contact local authorities.

“Our Safety and Well-Being Workgroup has been planning this rollout for several months,” said Superintendent Earnest Winston. “Training for staff and safety teams is completed. We are confident it will allow our students to say something if they see something. This program is one part of our safety solution. We believe our students want to do the right thing, and access to the reporting system is a step in the right direction.”

In a video posted on the CMS website, Winston pleased with parents and students for their help to keep schools safe.

“We have seen far more fights and altercations among students so far this year than in previous schools,” Winston said in the video.

Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown spoke to some parents about how they feel about the app.

“A lot of people don’t want to say anything if they think the source might point back to them, as far as being the one that told,” Janine Wilson said, who has a teen daughter. “As long as she knew and felt comfortable that she was going to be anonymous, I think she would.”

Training for the system started Tuesday for grades 6th through 12th, with the official rollout next Friday.

The program meets the reporting guidelines and standards developed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the Center for Safer Schools.

As of January, 5,000 schools and school districts are participating in the “Say Something system,” according to Sandy Hook Promise.

>> In the video at the top of the page, Channel 9 is breaking down how students can use the tool right from their phones.

(WATCH BELOW: Local program aims to help kids break cycle of violence in Charlotte schools)