Students have mixed reactions to TDSB hotline

Student Safety Helpline

Student Safety Helpline a success despite mixed feelings from students.

Local high school students have a mixed reaction when it comes to help lines offered to them.

Some students are skeptical about the necessity of these help lines.

“I don’t feel safer with these help lines because I would never use them,” says Jessica Guevara, 17, who is a student in Grade 12 at a local high school.

Guevara also says she doesn’t believe students will be encouraged to call simply because their identities can remain anonymous.

Two other high school students, Raschad Samuels and Mike Timeo, also say that they probably would not make use of these help lines even if they had something to report.

On the other hand, Menelik Edwards, a 15-year-old high school student, says these phone lines are helpful.

“They’re useful most of the time,” Edwards says. “My nephew is 10, and he phoned Crime Stoppers because he saw someone drunk getting around the corner. He got scared because the guy was pretty big.”

“I feel safe, but I think they’re necessary for kids who don’t know what else to do.”

The Toronto board’s new Student Safety Line launched on Jan. 21 has been a success, according to Donna Quan, the system superintendent of the TDSB.

“[It] has been well-received by students and parents,” Quan says. “A significant number of calls have come into the line.

“Calls come in from students of all ages, as well as parents, the volume of calls indicate a need for the line,” she says.

The TDSB Student Safety Line allows callers to leave anonymous messages on a machine instead of directly speaking to anyone. Quan says allowing callers to phone during flexible hours and leave as much information as they are comfortable with, without being questioned, has worked well.

But the downside is that the caller may leave too little information.

“Sometimes calls are made into the line without enough detail. In these cases, every effort is made to analyze the information for action,” Quan says. “There are calls that cannot be followed up on.”

Besides leaving an anonymous message on a machine, students always have the option of speaking to their teachers or any adults.

But this is not something Guevara would do if she ever needs help.

“I wouldn’t talk to a teacher because you just go there to learn, not to have a relationship with them. Most kids won’t go to someone because they just don’t feel comfortable like that,” Guevara says.

Quan says that they are there to follow up and stop students’ problems from getting worse.

Students can call the TDSB 395-SAFE line at any time to report threats, intimidation, bullying, harassment, and any other safety concerns they have.