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Lynn School Committee considering a tip line as a way to prevent tragedies

LYNN — In the wake of last month’s shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the Lynn School Committee is mulling a tip line aimed at reporting problems before they turn into tragedies.

School committee member Jared Nicholson said since the shooting, school safety has been on the top of everyone’s minds, including how more can be done to prevent the unthinkable.

Nicholson said one of the resources he looked at was a report shared by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), which included a recommendation that the schools have a tip line, to identify problems before they become a real threat.

The report, which included a list of recommendations for school safety, was compiled by a comparable firm to the MASC in New Jersey (New Jersey School Boards Association), and shared by the MASC after Parkland, Nicholson said.

Nicholson said he thought the tip line was a worthwhile recommendation. The tip line would be based on the idea that someone sees a problem and wants to stop it. With the rise in mental health issues, he said it’s important to try to identify those issues before they get past the breaking point.

Reports following the Florida school shooting have shown that the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was suffering from mental health issues and had refused to allow the school district to continue providing him mental health services after he turned 18.

Maybe someone sees something with a neighbor, or is worried that a student in class has an experience that rubs them the wrong way and wants to report it through the tip line. The purpose, Nicholson said, is to provide another resource for people who are concerned about a potential threat or someone who might need help, which could be for a mental health issue.

“It would be to try to identify individuals in need of some type of intervention or counseling before it is an issue,” he said.  

Nicholson said the plan for the meantime is for the schools to share a tip line with the Lynn Police, since police already have a tip line in place. School-related tips would be handled by Officer Oren Wright, the school security and emergency planning liaison. Wright would then determine if it’s more appropriate for him to look into the issue or refer it to a school counselor.  

School officials might determine that it makes more sense to have a separate line eventually, but it makes sense to consolidate with one that is already in place. Nicholson said a second line would require setting up infrastructure. He said the school committee has asked the school department to provide an update during the spring about how the rollout is going and if there are other ideas.

“It’s just so painful to hear when kids have issues that are discovered too late and we do everything we can for our staff to identify issues when they exist,” Nicholson said. “Enlisting anyone else who comes into contact and flags potential problems is a worthwhile exercise.”

Anyone with a cell phone can send an anonymous text tip to the Lynn Police Department by texting the word tiplynn and the tip information to tip411 or 847411. Anonymous web tips can also be submitted from the police department’s website at www.lynnpolice.org and clicking the submit tip icon.

The department has a regular phone tip line in service that is available for those wishing to remain anonymous, but who do not have text service or a computer. The phone number is 781-477-4444.

 

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