SEPTEMBER 9, 2015–MINNEAPOLIS –The Bridge for Youth launched its new 24-hour texting hotline for teens and families today. The crisis hotline, (612) 400-SAFE, is staffed round the clock by professional staff and volunteers, trained to de-escalate crisis, provide emotional support, and connect youth and families with critical resources.
“With 400-SAFE, kids can connect with us anywhere, at any time,” said Ali Kier, Youth Response Center Supervisor at The Bridge for Youth. “They can text us at school or from any unsafe situation at home or on the street.”
The new service gives teens a safe, anonymous way to communicate difficult information — and get help. Staff and hotline volunteers are trained to address a wide variety of sensitive topics including bullying, family conflict, homelessness, violence, sexual exploitation, anxiety, depression, gender identity issues, self-harm, and suicide.
With cell phone use at an all-time high for teens, introducing a texting crisis counseling program is well-timed. Pew Research reports in their 2015 study on youth and social media that a typical teen sends 30 texts per day. And, in today’s wired world, only 12% of 10-17 year olds say they don’t have access to a cell phone. Teen cell phone ownership is highest among African American teens, with 85% reporting they own a smart phone.
The biggest challenge facing The Bridge for Youth now is to get the word out to teens about the service. “Our hope is that friends will tell friends and (612) 400-SAFE will get entered as a contact into a lot of cell phones. It’s a tool that can save someone’s life. We want every kid to know this number,” said Kier.
The Bridge for Youth is seeking volunteers to help staff the crisis line at its Youth Response Center in Minneapolis. Click here for more information.
Developed by software development firm DevJam, 400-SAFE was funded with grant support from Target, Microsoft, Shavlik Family Foundation, Youthprise, Pohlad Family Foundation, the State of Minnesota, and RBA.