All Pike schools

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2001

to participate

in S.A.V.E. program


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Staff Writer

A 14-year-old Florida boy is facing the possibility of life in prison for killing his teacher.

The teen has apologized for his actions, but local law enforcement officers and concerned parents are doing what they can to prevent something like that from happening here.

When students in Pike County return to school next week, they will be given a tool to fight violence in their schools ­ a toll free phone number.

S.A.V.E. (Students Against Violence in Education) is a nonprofit agency implemented to reduce violence in schools by giving students a method for reporting suspicious activity without having to give their names.

District Attorney Mark Fuller said the objective of S.A.V.E. is to "set up a program that works as a resource schools can use to identify potential crimes."

All schools in Pike County have agreed to participate in the program, Fuller said, adding he appreciates their participation in what he considers an important and, possibly, life-saving program.

If a student has knowledge of a crime to be committed, possession of drugs or anything else that should not be happening on campus, that individual can call 1-888-283-SAVE (7283) to report that activity.

The hotline will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week with individuals who will assign the anonymous caller a tip code and ask the student for a password. Having that code and password are the only means by which a student can claim any reward.

After an incident is reported to school officials, it will be researched and reviewed by S.A.V.E.’s board of directors. If the reported incident results in action being taken against a student, a reward will be offered to the caller. The tip code will be posted in a public place within each school and the caller must, then, see the appropriate authority at the school, use the password and receive money with no questions asked.

Fuller said S.A.V.E. is designed to reward students who report crime, drugs and guns on campus.

Looking at statistics that indicate an increase in juvenile crime and the fact there have been 17 school shootings across the United States, Fuller said something has to be done on a local level before a school in Pike or Coffee County makes national headlines.

"I don’t think we have to reiterate the problems we’ve seen in our country," Fuller said. "I’ll do just about anything to prevent that from happening here."

Knowing it could happen here, too, is what has Fuller, other law enforcement officers and parents like Jeanine Buxton-Roberts concerned.

"It’s better to be proactive," Fuller said. "This isn’t a DA or law enforcement project. We all have an obligation, not only a responsibility, to get involved."

Buxton-Roberts has two small children in school and believes by promoting the hotline, the likelihood of lives being lost in Pike or Coffee Counties is diminished.

After school shootings began making headlines, she went to her school superintendent and voiced concern. He paired her up with Fuller and they went to work creating what is now S.A.V.E.

Fuller said he felt like it was his "duty," as district attorney, to do something to work toward preventing such violence in this area.

His goal is for S.A.V.E. to be an asset to the school systems and be a tool for them beginning with the 2001-2002 school year.

Although the governor did initiate a statewide hotline, those involved with S.A.V.E. hope having the hotline manned on a more local level will encourage students to call, plus offer more immediate response by school and law enforcement officials.