SafeUT - one app you want your teen to have
May 17, 2018 04:11PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch
Screenshot of SafeUT app on the App Store. (Jessica Ivins /City Journals)
By Jessica Ivins | firstname.lastname@example.org
Granite Connection High counselor, Michelle Glaittli said, “We encourage all the kids to have the SafeUT app on their phones, especially with summer coming up.” Even when school is not in session, the app is still a great resource for kids when they need to report violence or safety concerns anonymously.
“We mostly get reports of violence, safety and drugs,” said Glaittli. Every report is taken seriously. It is up to the reporting individual if they want to remain anonymous. Glaittli said, “The only problem is when kids do not share enough information. We need a first and last name of the persons involved, where, and when the incident took place in order to help.”
Imagine kids at school in a group chat. They all receive the same text from a friend: “I want to die.” Then nothing more is said from that friend.
There are two scenarios that could happen. One, the friends do nothing. Or, one of the friends, Jack, makes an anonymous tip on the SafeUT app. Jack’s friend has been having a hard time and Jack is worried.
The first scenario is called the Bystander Effect or Bystander Apathy. John Darley and Bibb Latane coined the term while teaching in New York City in the 1960s. Jack’s friend needs help in the group text, but no one comes to his aid. Why? The friends might be worried how they look if they say something… and they were wrong. Or they may not want to get involved in other people’s business. Or they think someone else will help him.
The second scenario that could happen is that Jack has the SafeUT app on this phone and makes an anonymous tip. He will reveal the location, school, event information, and person(s) involved. Then he can keep the tip number and password to check on updates. No one knows that he made the tip.
The SafeUT program was developed with funding from the Utah State Legislature in collaboration with University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah Office of the Attorney General, and the Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition in 2016. The goal of SafeUT app is to keep Utahns from ignoring suicide, depression, cyber bullying, threats, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Options of chat, text, or anonymous tip are available on the app. Licensed clinicians are available 24/7 on a crisis line call center to respond. There are referral services available, supportive and crisis counseling, and suicide prevention.
Is the SafeUT app helping? The more people that have it the more it can help. Some updates included adding push notifications about tips, making it more reliable, and easier to use. In January they fully translated the app for Spanish/Española.
Since its launch, it has been downloaded 33,000 times and clinicians have had conversations with over 19,000 students. Currently, over 1,900 tips or chats are sent in on average each month. Bullying makes up 79 percent of subject matter, suicide 76 percent, and depression 48 percent. There were 86 planned school attacks stopped since 2016. Stats were provided from the SafeUT: at a glance website on attorneygeneral.utah.gov.
If there is eminent danger, UNI has a mobile crisis team that responds. If it is less eminent, the tip is reported to the school counselor and the school will help whoever is involved or the appropriate authorities.
Remember Jack who made the anonymous tip from the group chat? He reported his friend’s first and last name, the time and place of the incident. UNI contacted the school counselor immediately. Within 5 minutes the school counselor and the vice principal walked into the “I want to die” kid’s classroom and spoke privately to him. It was determined that he was not in eminent danger. He was joking. However, a tip is never taken lightly.
The school provided the child with support from the counselor and a phone call was placed to his parents to let them know what had happened.
Every year Granite Connection High counselors invite students to prevent problems of bullying, depression, violence, cutting, threats, cyber bullying, and drug and alcohol abuse by downloading the SafeUT app. Glaittli wants to remind our kids that the SafeUT app is there and students need to have it on their phone.