LEGISLATION OFFERS HOPE FOR SAFER PUBLIC SCHOOLS

June 05, 2001 11:00 pm

A bill that sets up a toll-free hot line to encourage students to report drugs or guns on campus is sailing through the Oregon Legislature. And why not? House Bill 3647 has the potential to make our schools safer.

Students might be reluctant to report guns or drugs to their principal or some other school official. They might fear retaliation should their identity get out to other students.

HB3647 protects a students privacy. A student calls the 800 number anonymously to tip off authorities about drugs or guns in their school. Gov. John Kitzhaber plans to sign the bill after the House approves a minor amendment made by the Senate.

The hot line idea came from a task force that Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers put together in response to school shootings in Oregon and Colorado.

The hot line idea is not new. Such a line in Oklahoma gets 35 to 40 calls a month, and officials say most of them turn out to be accurate tips.

The Success of the hot line will depend on how well officials get the word out about the toll-free number. Schools should plan to post the 800 number in conspicuous locations like bulletin boards or on their campus television systems. A widespread media campaign would also be helpful. It will do little good if a student is unaware of the toll-free number or has no way to get to the number when the need arises. Students should see the message often so theyll know what to do when they have a tip to report.

Heres the payoff. The anonymous tipster might be responsible for saving one or more lives because he or she took action.

BE FREE OF ABUSE

June is the traditional month for brides, grooms and weddings. The hope of all couples taking their marriage vows is for happiness that lasts a lifetime.

The truth is, some marriages turn sour after a few weeks or months. A wife, for example, might find herself in an abusive situation. Her spouse might regularly abuse her physically, sexually, emotionally or in some combination of the three.

Some women elect to hang in there, hoping that hubby will some day see the light, and life will start getting better. Some of these women feel trapped, thinking if they leave their abusive spouse they will experience financial ruin.

That does not have to be the case at all, according to Shelter From the Storm, the La Grande-based program that provides help for victims of domestic violence. The shelter is offering a support group, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, for women who would dearly love to improve their lives. Called Potentials, the group will meet at the shelters center at 1111 Fifth St. Any woman is invited to attend the meeting.

No person should feel pressured to live another day in an abusive relationship. For information about Potentials or other programs offered by the shelter, call 963-7226 or 962-7442.