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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Could An Anonymous Text Prevent A School Shooting?

Schools shooters often threaten violence before they act. But according to an FBI guide to school shootings, students who hear these threats rarely tell an adult.

Now, Washington lawmakers are considering a program to encourage students to anonymously report threats of violence.

Umpqua Community College, Seattle Pacific University, North Thurston, Marysville Pilchuck and Reynolds High Schools. These are the locations of recent school shootings in the Northwest. But it was Columbine in 1999 that defined much of the life and career of Republican state Representative Kevin Parker of Spokane. He was in the cafeteria that day as a visitor to the school.

Now Parker is proposing to create a statewide program called Students Protecting Students.

“What this bill does is focus on students reporting what they see,” he said.

Parker wants students anywhere in the state to be able to anonymously report threats of violence via text, email or phone.

“We do know that they tend to hear stuff and see stuff before school officials and law authority,” Parker said.

The union representing Washington teachers said it supports the concept, but has concerns about liability.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."