$100: Students get paid to rat on other kids
By Shannon Malcom, News-Leader
Nassau County students could earn as much as $100 next school year every time they turn in another student for having drugs, alcohol, weapons or tobacco on campus.
Spearheaded by the Nassau Alcohol, Crime and Drug Abatement Coalition, the program has tentatively been titled "Safe Schools," and it's planned to start in every high school and middle school in Nassau County in August if approved by members of the Nassau County School Board.
"This program empowers the child to create a safe environment for themselves," said Susan Woodford, vice-president of NACDAC.
Woodford is working on the program with other members of NACDAC, including Fernandina Beach Police Officer Marty Scott and local school officials.
According to Scott, the program would allow students who report on fellow students to remain anonymous; awards would be given for information that leads to an arrest.
Woodford said who students will report to will vary from school to school.
"I think initially we're going to set it up with guidance counselors," Scott said. "We want to keep these kids anonymous, we don't want their identity to be discovered."
Startup costs for the program, which will be about $5,000, will be funded by grant money, but a new county and city ordinance could be required to fund the program on a continuous basis.
Scott said he'd like to see fines assessed to those convicted of drug crimes used to fund Safe Schools.
"My whole thing is that we recycle the money," Scott said.
Possession of weapons, drugs and alcohol on school property are criminal offenses; possession of tobacco on school property is a civil offense.
"I see about a half a dozen of those in here a week," said Juvenile Court Judge Robert Williams of minors cited for having tobacco on school property.
Williams said students who may worry that telling on a classmate would be "tattle-telling" should realize that they could be keeping the classmate from getting into bigger trouble in the future.
"You just have to realize what the goal is and have it firm in your mind that this is worthwhile and that this is something I need to do to help people," Williams said. "You could actually be saving people's lives by doing this."
Scott said members of NACDAC came up with the idea at one of their monthly meetings.
"We were just talking ... tossing around ideas, and this is one of the ideas we tossed around," Scott said.
Woodford said the program is modeled after similar programs in other school systems.
"We've seen other reward systems," she said. "There is the 'be safe' hotline (already in Nassau County schools), but kids don't seem to utilize that."
Scott said there are still several details of the program that need to be worked out before it begins in the schools.
"It's still in the very early planning stages," he said. "There are some quirks that we're going to have to get worked out ... but pretty much everyone I've spoken to thought it was a good idea."
I'm sure no kid would lie to get a 100 bucks.
This is ridiculous. I can't believe this would even be considered as an option.
I wonder how many will use the money to buy drugs.