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Tip Lines Can Lower Violence Exposure in Schools

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2024

This article presents the research methodology and outcomes of a randomized controlled trial that examined the impacts of an anonymous reporting system called Say Something, which includes 24/7 support for tips in addition to schoolwide training on recognizing and reporting warning signs of violence; it notes that students in the trial reported less violence at school; and recommends that school administrators support Say Something training for students.


The most visible school security measures — police officers, cameras, metal detectors — have dominated research and public debate on school safety for decades. School administrators looking for the best ways to protect students and reassure families now have evidence for another, less visible tool: anonymous reporting systems. The National Institute of Justice funded a randomized controlled trial in Miami, which found that students at schools with an anonymous reporting system experienced 13.5% fewer violent incidents than students at schools without it. In most planned school attacks, at least one person close to the attacker knows about the plan ahead of time. But a “code of silence” often keeps students from reporting on a classmate. Tip lines and other systems that allow students to share their safety concerns anonymously — by phone, online, or in a mobile app — offer a way to overcome that barrier. By 2019, around half of public middle and high schools had tip lines, though most of those lines had been operating for three years or less. Researchers are just starting to understand how students, schools, and communities use these reporting systems and what kind of impact they have.

Date Published: June 1, 2024