Created by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS), the SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT Resource Center is a comprehensive, one-stop place to turn with important concerns, offering a Threat Reporting System, Threat Assessment Consultation, Critical Incident Response and General School Safety Guidance.
The threat reporting system is available 24/7 and is free to all.
Students, parents, school staff, or any community members can submit a school safety concern or threat via a website, mobile phone application, or toll-free number. Resource center staff work around-the-clock to respond to tips and to deploy a response locally by communicating directly with school administrators, law enforcement, and counselors. Nationwide, more than half of public middle and high schools now operate a tipline.
In the U.S., more than half of public middle and high schools operate a tipline1
They are recommended for use by the United States Secret Service when developing comprehensive school violence prevention plans2
These tiplines are used to identify not just threats to schools, but also other daily safety concerns students encounter, such as bullying, drug use, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and more.
Critical Incident Response
The Resource Center can deploy critical incident response teams if a school experiences a critical incident. When schools report a critical incident to the Resource Center, a regionally based critical incident response team will mobilize to affected schools. This allows schools to gain access to statewide resources by placing one phone call, instead of having to waste precious time making several phone calls.
Threat Assessment Consultation
If a possible threat has been identified the Resource Center can provide threat assessment consultations for school staff and law enforcement. Consultations can include determining the severity of a threat, appropriate response to a behavior, or even assistance with the implementation of the Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol.
General School Safety Guidance
The Resource Center also provides general school safety guidance to students, parents, school staff, and law enforcement. Training, building security, school safety planning, and other topics related to school safety can all be accessed by contacting the SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT Resource Center.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Speak Up, Speak Out?
SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT allows students, school staff, community members and law enforcement to confidentially report tips on potential harm or criminal activities directed at school students, school employees, and schools. The SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT Resource Center can respond confidentially and quickly to get help to you or to someone who is hurting or struggling.
How can I submit a tip?
Tips can be submitted 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week by telephone, mobile app, or via the SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT website. Multimedia attachments and links to additional information are encouraged.
What are SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT’s hours of operation?
Tips can be submitted to SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT 24-hours-a-day, 7-days- a-week.
How does SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT help prevent harmful student-related behavior?
SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT gives students the tool to break the culture of silence and connect with adult authorities who can help. Threats of retaliation and stigmatization often discourage students from reporting the dangerous behaviors of their peers. Based on research from the U.S. Secret Service, in 81% of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker knew of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it. SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT aims to eliminate this culture of silence by providing a confidential, collaborative communication system where students and authorities can work together to respond to school safety threats.
What happens if someone reports a tip that is false, that is intended to get someone else in trouble, or as a joke?
The information that you provided on the tip form must be true and correct to the best of your knowledge. In addition to other potential consequences, knowingly providing false information, or intentionally providing information designed to harass, frighten, intimidate, or abuse another, may be investigated by law enforcement and potentially prosecuted.
How is the validity of a tip established? Is there a filtering system in place to prevent program abuse?
SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT is a resource that individuals must use responsibly. Practical jokes and prank tips will not be tolerated. The program will remind users that reporting a tip is a serious action that will result in a response from the appropriate authorities. SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT analysts use their professional expertise to assess the validity of reports and determine whether further action is appropriate.
How do you keep my tip confidential?
When you submit a tip, the SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT analyst will assign your tip a number, and will not ask you for any personally identifiable information. If there is not enough information in the tip to move forward with an investigation or follow-up, SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT analysts or school administrators can request more information from you through the mobile app or SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT website. To the extent allowed by law, SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT will protect the identity of the tipster unless providing the identity is necessary to protect life, consent is given to share the information, or in response to a court order.
What about parents? To what extent are they involved in responding to potential threats?
While the identity of the person submitting the tip will remain confidential, parents will be notified if local school administrators or law enforcement deems it necessary.
Who keeps records of the tips that are submitted? Will schools need to hire more staff?
The Wisconsin Department of Justice maintains all SPEAK UP SPEAK OUT records. To promote program accountability, existing school personnel, local law enforcement, or community mental health service personnel will be asked to submit disposition reports with outcomes for each submission.
What happens to the tip if the individual reporting is threatening to hurt him/herself?
SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT analysts address the immediate need, and as necessary, forward the call to the appropriate responding agency. The analysts are specifically trained to recognize mental illness and emotional disturbances and manage crisis situations. All psychiatric emergencies are additionally referred to the appropriate community mental health services psychiatric crisis line. Law enforcement may be called to conduct a welfare check.
What is the appropriate action when a tip is received?
Because the content and circumstances of each tip will vary, the appropriate follow-up action will likewise vary. However, in each case, the emphasis is not the arrest of the person against whom a tip is offered. Rather, the goal of the program is to prevent harm and get students the support they need.
What if there is not enough information in the tip to move forward with an investigation or follow-up?
SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT can request more information from the tipster through the mobile app or the SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT website. Upon submitting the tip via the mobile app, the tipster will receive a notification with the tip ID and password, which will allow for two-way dialog with school administrators or SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT analysts. If Law enforcement requests additional information to further the investigation school administrators or SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT analysts can attempt two-way dialog with the tipster and if additional information is provided, the requester will be notified. If there is not enough information for follow-up, this should be recorded in the disposition report.