The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 7, 2012

Limestone County schools using electronic anonymous tip line to improve safety

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— An anonymous tip line for students and parents who want to privately report activities such as bullying, child abuse, Internet harassment or other illegal activities has been added by Limestone County Schools.

The service is designed to save a student’s life, prevent a crime or tragedy at school, catch a criminal or stop domestic abuse.

Although some schools have suggestion boxes in which students can drop anonymous messages regarding such problems as bullying, this system is separate from the school district or Police Department, so informers can be sure they are protected from being identified.

Karen Tucker, director of technology for Limestone County Schools, recently issued a memo to teachers about the service, which is provided in conjunction with an online organization called AnonymousTips.com. The allegiance began with an email from one parent.

“We received an email from a parent asking us if we were partners with AnonymousTips.com and (noting) that it was endorsed by the state of Alabama,” Tucker said.

She researched the company and verified the parent’s description of the program.

“We completed the steps in the setup process and were confirmed for participation Monday,” Tucker said.

The parent’s email was timely in that Maintenance Director Darryl Adams is in the process of updating and upgrading the school system’s safety plan, Tucker said.

“This partnership fit right into our plan as an action step that we wanted to take,” she said. “We have sent the information to all staff and faculty across the district and added it to all schools and the district website.”

How it works

The tip line allows participants to report bullying, drug or gang activity, sexually explicit cellphone messages or photographs (known as “sexting”), Internet harassment, child abuse or any other suspicious activity or school-related problem.

“Informers can be confident they are protected from being identified,” the memo reads.

To send a tip, go online to www.anonymoustips.com, click on “send tips,” “educational,” “AL,” “Athens,” and what type of incident is to be reported, such as suicide threat, weapons, drugs, fighting, theft, vandalism or other. Indicate whether you are a victim, witness or parent.  A box will appear for you to type the information you wish to report. A note above the box reminds you to give names, dates, times and any other details that will help school officials investigate the issue. Read and click the box indicating you agree with the website’s terms, then click submit.