By Maddie Martin
GREEN BAY – The Speak Up Speak Out (SUSO) program is helping keep students and staff in the Green Bay Area Public School district (GBAPS) safe by offering anonymous reporting services.
Since it was created by the Office of School Safety in 2020, Speak Up Speak Out has been available in the GBAPS, as well as other schools across the state.
The program offers services, such as an anonymous tip line, incident response teams, as well as threat assessment consultations.
“As more of these threats or incidents have occurred, we’re finding out that people knew what was happening, or they had some awareness that it could happen, but they weren’t coming forward [beforehand] to prevent it,” says Chris Collar, safety and security manager for the GBAPS. “Sometimes people don’t always want to say something … because they’re afraid of what would happen if people found out — but [Speak Up Speak Out] gives them an anonymous way to ‘see something, say something’ and get the information to the people who need to know it quickly.”
The staff at the GBAPS has made great efforts to make sure the Speak Up Speak Out program is easily accessible and available to everyone in the district.
One way they’ve done this is by adding the SUSO app to the launchpad that students and staff use every day.
“Our staff [and students] have quick access– they can find the app, click it, and submit a report,” said Collar.
With national bullying prevention month approaching in October, the GBAPS is making sure that students are aware of this resource.
“We use that month to put the information out to our students,” Collar added. “We’ve got different posters and promotions [for SUSO] in our buildings so that when kids see it they recognize what that is.”
According to the 2021-22 annual report for SUSO, the program has received over 3,000 tips since its inception in 2020.
While these tips span across many categories, the two most common are bullying (26.4%) and suicide threats (6.7%).
“In the school district safety is our No. 1 priority. So we do everything we can to keep our students safe,” Collar stated. “It comes down to the human element. There’s a lot of things that people see, hear or read, and the biggest thing we try to get people to understand is: tell somebody.”
For more information on Speak Up Speak Out, visit https://speakup.widoj.gov.