Editor’s note-the Kane School District, and local county and city government and law enforcement have made ‘keeping our schools safe’ a priority. 

 Kane County School District Resource Officer Kelly Lamb has a good rapport with school staff and students.

The school district and Kane County Sheriff’s Office fund Officer Lamb to be the go-to safety person for all the district schools. As a six-year law enforcement officer, Lamb has a wealth of experience and resources to draw upon. 

In the capacity of District Resource Officer, he visits the schools and checks on safety protocol, as well as visits with kids just to talk or if there’s an issue. 

If an in-school crisis comes up, Lamb would be able to respond much quicker. Boots on the ground and on location is always a good thing to mitigate a crisis. 

“This is my second year of working for the district,” said Lamb. “I enjoy working with the young people. The school district pays for eight to nine months of my salary, with the Sheriff’s Office paying for the other.”

But how do adults such as school staff or law enforcement get tips about a young person having issues, such as suicidal thoughts, alcohol or drugs, bullying or criminal activity or intent?

There are actually numerous ways people in authority can get tips on things going awry. Open communication between students, guardians, staff and law enforcement are certainly a direct way a student can share with adults’ concerns about a classmate. 

“We’ve got word of mouth. It’s the whole thing, ‘if you see something, say something,’” said Officer Lamb.

But sometimes it’s difficult to share your concerns or fears about a classmate. You might be concerned about reprisal or being considered a rat. 

That’s where the Safeutah app comes in. Students can write concerns anonymously to it, expressing what their worry is. The tip is then considered or acted on (or if it’s a crisis situation), and quickly channeled to the proper authorities. 

“It is a good resource,” said Lamb, “because students aren’t as reticent to say something if they know they aren’t going to be singled out for sharing a concern or fear.”

From there, Lamb said there are different referrals and a process in place to address a variety of situations. “Unless it’s a felony-type crime, where legal and court processes must be involved, that is obviously treated differently.” 

The school district does not turn a blind eye on students who might need counseling for suicidal thoughts, problem behavior or family crisis. If the student and guardian are in agreement, there is a referral to counselors Josh and Deborah Danbara, paid partially by the school district to offer the student assistance. Last year, 113 district students were referred to the Danbaras, with 60 having suicidal thoughts. 

Lamb said we have really great students, but as with other places Kane County School District isn’t immune to societal problems. He said vaping is definitely an issue. “It’s easily accessible and easy to hide.”

He shares that he thinks a lot of young people’s angst is generated in social media. Bullying, different ideologies and constant communication can sometime exacerbate a young person’s thoughts and actions. 

“It’s got a lot more to do with social networking,” said Lamb. “As a keyboard warrior, you can say anything if you can hide behind a keyboard.”