A new hotline for reports of threats or concerning behavior aims to prevent school violence.

Students, parents, teachers and members of the public can anonymously report their concerns in three ways: at safe2helpne.org, on the Safe2Help NE app or by calling 531-299-7233.

The system launched Monday and already has received nearly 30 tips, said Omaha Deputy Police Chief Greg Gonzalez.

“People have already reported things that they’re concerned about for their friends. That’s what we want to attract,” he said. “We want students to be looking out for each other as much as themselves.”

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The hotline has been a goal of the Douglas County Threat Advisory Team, a group started in 2018 that is made up of law enforcement officers, school district officials and mental health professionals. The group meets monthly to review cases, share strategies and discuss programs to help kids.

Tips reported via the hotline can be shared with officials from 186 schools in six districts across Douglas County and, if necessary, law enforcement. Crisis counselors at the Boys Town National Hotline who are available 24 hours a day can chat with the tipsters to get more information or to offer help or resources.

Tipsters can upload photos or videos of concerning behavior that they have seen. They will be given a four-digit code so they can stay anonymous.

“We feel more young people will feel confident and comfortable to reach out and prevent tragedies from happening,” said Ginny Gohr, the Boys Town Hotline director.

Sarpy County has had its own threat assessment group since 2016, including an anonymous tip line for members of the community to report threats they might overhear or see on social media.

Most tips are not school threats — Gohr said data show that 80% of calls to safe schools hotlines are mental health issues, including thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety or relationship issues.

Promoting the hotline with the public is underway and will continue, said Bennington Public Schools Superintendent Terry Haack, a member of the advisory team. Schools are hanging posters in hallways and classrooms, putting the app on school-issued devices such as tablets and computers and have mentioned the hotline in newsletters. The advisory group has created stickers, pencils, bookmarks, magnets and posters to spread the word.

“This is imperative for the next level of safety that we want to accomplish in our schools and our community,” said Millard Public Schools Superintendent Jim Sutfin, another team member. “We want schools to be the safest place to come."