Hotline provides opportunity to report bullying
JEFFERSON CITY —
Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division Unit Manager Sara Smith said the Missouri School Violence Hotline receives more than 1,000 calls per year.
The service began in 2001 and was designed to provide a way for children, teachers, community members and parents to report issues at school.
"The goal is to empower them to have a way to report things that they're concerned about," Smith said.
School violence encompasses several issues, but Smith said bullying is a prominent one. Of all of the calls, texts and online reports the hotline receives, Smith said bullying is the highest reported issue.
Dispatchers take calls Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. Smith said the situations are all managed differently.
"Once a report or tip is made to the hotline, then our dispatchers contact the school officials and simultaneously they also contact law enforcement for them to respond as appropriate in that school or community," she said.
Smith said calls tend to spike after national tragedies such as the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February.
"It brings about an awareness to communities," she said. "They feel more confident in saying something at that time."
Smith said dispatchers say providing students with a voice is the most rewarding part of the job.
"Students have a way that they feel empowered to call - that they can help keep kids, other kids and other students safe," she said.
There are four ways to report an issue through the hotline:
- Call 1-866-748-7047, toll free
- Text 847411 using keyword, “ReportIt.” Include school name and city.
- Report online 24/7
- Download the “MO ReportIt” App from your App store