2010-03-12 / Top Stories

Anti-Violence Hotline Comes To Schools

City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in conjunction with the Department of Education, the New York City Police Department, and PAX, creators of the national violence prevention program, SPEAK UP, announced the launch of an anonymous hotline in New York City public schools, which will encourage students to come forward with knowledge of dangerous activity. This hotline is run by PAX and will engage students to take charge and report if they see or know of a violent incident in their school or community. Participating schools will be part of this pilot program that will empower students to improve the safety of their schools and community, as well as provide information that will be used to hone the program for potential expansion. Joining Quinn were Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly; John Feinblatt, Chief Advisor for to the Mayor for Policy and Strategic Planning; Councilmembers, PAX founder Daniel Gross; Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Jackie Rowe Adams from Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E.; Gloria Cruz from Million Moms March; and Principal Seth Litt from Public School 217 in the Bronx.

“School should be a safe haven for students,” said Quinn. “Too many of our children fear retaliation if they report a violent incident that is about to happen and unfortunately authorities find out when it’s too late and innocent lives are affected. This program will empower students to take school safety into their own hands and anonymously report imminent acts of violence and recognize it’s not snitching, it’s saving a life. I want to thank my Council colleagues, the NYPD, PAX, DOE, Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E and advocates for their unyielding support in keeping our students safe.”

“Getting students involved in reporting guns or other threats to their safety is important. We’ve seen tremendous improvement in school safety over the years. But more efforts are welcome, especially those that succeed in getting students involved. I want to congratulate Speaker Quinn, Chancellor Klein and all those who are involved in the PAX project,” said Kelly.

“A secure learning environment is the foundation for student success, and this Administration has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that our schools are safe, supportive communities where students can thrive and learn,” said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. “This new program will build on those achievements by helping students to quickly obtain assistance if they see or are victims of gun violence anywhere in the City. I want to thank Speaker Quinn for her continued leadership in helping to make our schools and our streets safer for New York City’s children.”

“It is inspiring to see such a clear commitment by Speaker Quinn and the City of New York in support of our efforts to prevent gun violence in our schools,” said Gross. “Their leadership is matched only by the courage of these students who are demanding safer schools and communities. SPEAK UP NYC will further empower students and help to prevent unnecessary tragedy.”

SPEAK UP NYC features the firstand only anonymous national hotline for students to report weapon threats, 1-866-SPEAK-UP. Developed in collaboration with leading experts in law enforcement and education, the hotline is supported by a comprehensive youth education and marketing initiative, including powerful public service advertising with tens of millions of dollars in pro-bono support, and extensive collateral materials.

According to a report from the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, in more than 80 percent of school shootings, the attackers tell other students about their plans beforehand. Additional studies show that when weapons are confiscated in schools, 92 percent of the time the tip comes from another student.

A spokesperson says that in only seven years, the 1-866-SPEAKUP hotline has received over 35,000 calls resulting in the almost certain prevention of hundreds of tragedies.

“We know that in order to learn, New York City’s children need a secure environment,” said Feinblatt. “We’ve made tremendous progress in school safety, lowering major crime in schools citywide by more than 43 percent. The program we’re announcing today will give students a new, safe and anonymous way to keep illegal guns out of our communities, classrooms, and hallways – so they can focus on learning.”

“This is a step forward in the urgent task of protecting our city’s children from harm,” said Michael Mulgrew, president, United Federation of Teachers (UFT). “It is a win for the students, parents, teachers, school communities and everyone working to nurture, educate and protect the welfare of kids. I want to thank Speaker Quinn, the City Council and everyone involved in SPEAK UP NYC.”

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