Wauseon, OH – You overhear a conversation among high school students about an underage drinking party after the football game this Friday and you are unsure of how to respond? Do you report the conversation to local law enforcement? Will people consider you a snitch?
Healthy Choices Caring Communities, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, are pleased to offer residents an opportunity to anonymously report suspected or known incidents involving underage substance use. The community is urged to “Dare to Care” to help protect youth from negative consequences connected to underage substance use by reporting suspected or known incidents via the SPEAKOUT Tip line. According to the 2014 Youth Health Assessment, 22% of Fulton County high school youth report having had an alcoholic drink in the past 30 days. The connection between using alcohol as a teen and other high risk behaviors such as sexual intercourse, using tobacco, marijuana and the misuse of prescription medications is significant. By reporting underage substance use, the community is working to prevent additional harm to youth beyond alcohol use. The tip line, SPEAKOUT to prevent underage substance use, will go live at the end of September and provide an opportunity to create and continue a culture in which underage substance use is reported thus decreasing and preventing harm to our youth. The SPEAK OUT Tip line allows individuals of any age, to report via text messaging or mobile app suspected or known underage parties and other criminal activity. To report via text, one should text SPEAKOUT to 274637 (CRIMES). The mobile app, TipSubmit Mobile, for your smart phone or tablet, is available as a free download in the ITunes or Google Play store. The tip line will be dispatched through the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and information routed to the appropriate local police department as needed for investigation.
Chief Torbet of Wauseon Police Department shares “As a law enforcement professional, I know that the vast majority of our youth are making healthy choices when it comes to underage drinking and substance use. But I am also aware that many youth and adults will not call law enforcement when they know about youth not making these same healthy choices for fear of reprisals. The SPEAKOUT Tip line allows anyone to text or submit via app information to local law enforcement information in regards to illegal activity with or without leaving their name. We have to stress that this tip line is not to be used for emergencies, residents should continue to contact 911 for emergency situations. It is our hope that this valuable tool becomes the norm for both youth and adults alike to help address the issue of underage substance use in our county.”