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Senate OKs hotline for anonymous reports in schools

Published March 10, 2014 4:42 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill that passed the Senate Monday on its way to the House would create a hotline for students, parents or public school employees to anonymously report unsafe activities including someone talking about suicide.

SB232s1's sponsor, Rep. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said an anonymous reporting statewide hotline is needed for students who are afraid of being reported to law enforcement to their parents. If the caller volunteers their name, however, social workers answering the hotline would be required to report that, Thatcher said.

Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, who ultimately voted for the bill, voiced concerns that creating an anonymous hotline for reporting unsafe behavior is unnecessary because other systems like law enforcement and school counseling are already in place.

Thatcher said anonymity is what makes the hotline unique. He said a similar hotline in Colorado wasn't successful until it was anonymous. Students are far more likely to report mental illness or thoughts of suicide if anonymous because going to a counselor requires school authorities to notify parents. "As soon as [Colorado] solved the anonymity issue and made a way that you could safely report, they started getting 2,000 calls a month," he said.

— Amy McDonald