North Carolina superintendent says new app can help reduce violence in schools

North Carolina superintendent Mark Johnson said the state will soon be using a new app that allows students to anonymously report school safety concerns in an effort to prevent various types of school violence.

“We want students to have their voices heard if they see bullying, if they see cyberbullying, if they see a concerning issue where one student may be thinking about hurting themselves or hurting others,” Johnson told Hill.TV during an interview Friday. “We hate that we’re at this point in society but we’ve got to do something to curb these school tragedies."

North Carolina is set to become the second state to use the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System. The app is geared toward students, but anyone in the community can use it.

Users can also submit tips via the website or by calling a statewide hotline. A crisis center then evaluates each submission before contacting school officials, law enforcement or both.

Johnson said what sets the new program apart is its command center, which is made up of school counselors, mental health experts and other trained professionals.

“This will be an easy way for students to tell us a tip and it will go to a command center that is 100 percent dedicated just for North Carolina,” Johnson told Hill.TV.

The program will launch during the 2019-2020 school year through a partnership with Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization that formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012. Pennsylvania schools were the first to use the reporting system, starting in January.

Johnson said North Carolina's public school system worked with the general assembly to get millions of dollars invested in the new system.

“School safety doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “School safety takes efforts from education leaders, elected leaders, law enforcement.”

—Tess Bonn