During National Catholic Schools Week, Let’s Stop Bickering Over the Term ‘Bullying’, and Make Positive Action A Priority

Frank A. DiLallo

National Catholic Schools Week has been an annual celebration of Catholic education in the U. S. for the last 45 years. The theme for Catholic Schools Week from January 27 to February 2, 2019 is; “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”

There are few greater threats to all schools than bullying. There is absolutely no school immune to peer mistreatment and the insidious impact it has on learning and the overall school climate. In every way, peer mistreatment is the antithesis to learning, serving, leading and succeeding.

The good news is that a myriad of successful strategies is available for positive and hopeful response. We can literally turn this problem into an opportunity for FORMATION and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!

With formation and character development in mind, it is imperative that we put things into perspective. The term “Bullying” is highly ambiguous and consensus about how, exactly, to characterize bullying behavior is extremely elusive. Every person who learns of an incident wears a subjective lens based on their own previous experiences (personal and professional). Often, administrators, teachers, and parents get hung up on the conundrum; “Is this or is this not bullying?”, at the expense of a quick intervention and resolution. As research proves that asking this question, “Is this really bullying?”, is bound to cause a great deal of consternation and confusion between school and home – with plenty of room for disagreements I feel the term “peer mistreatment” is more accurate, and reduces confusion and the likelihood that adults will label, or make assumptions about a child’s character or intentions.

Most likely, trying to get to the bottom of whether a situation is bullying or is not bullying is well intended, however the energy expended to make such a determination is exhausting and can be highly erroneous. By viewing all behaviors as “bullying” we can run amuck; the risk of unwittingly under responding to a volatile situation, such as physical assault, or over responding to a less serious situation, such as eye rolling.

We should by all means take every incident seriously, however after investigating, our efforts should focus on tailoring a unique response based on the developmental age of the child(ren) and the severity of the situation. We are not responding to “bullying”, we are sensitively responding to misguided actions. Please remember; “This child made a mistake, he/she is not a mistake.”

The #1 top priority for adults at school and parents at home should always include two key questions:

  1. Did the action(s) cause or does the action(s) have the potential to cause physical or emotional harm?
  2. Did the action(s) interfere with or does the action(s) have the potential to interfere with student learning?

It is important for us to create a paradigm shift from problem-centric bullying language, to more effectively align our responses with positive solution-centric approaches that embody compassion. Being Solution-Centric means that we are proactively engaging students in opportunities to learn and grow. Proactive means promoting skill-based learning, whereas anti as in “Anti-bullying” is reactive. It is much more effective and efficient to promote the behaviors we do want in students rather than efforts to eliminate or move student’s away from behaviors we don’t want.

There are many evidenced-based frameworks and programs to promote Pro-Social Skills. Religious and Public Schools adopt approaches that work for their environments. For Catholic and other Christian schools, a Christ-centered focus on the Gospel Guidelines is essential. For public schools Character-Based Education and Social Emotional Learning are key. In both cases, an effective anonymous reporting system such as STOPit should be an integral part of both Christian and public schools to effectively mitigate and respond to students in distress.

With this “new view” in mind; ALL incidents of peer mistreatment are taken seriously and every effort is made to guide misguided actions toward meaningful opportunities to learn, serve, lead and succeed, in educating and promoting pro-social skills for the formation of the whole child.

Helpful Resources
STOPit Solutions
Peace Be With You Christ Centered Bullying Redirect
National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)
Social Emotional Learning
Character Education

Guest author, Frank A. DiLallo, is a Professional Counselor and certified Prevention Specialist who works in the Office of Child & Youth Protection for the Diocese of Toledo. He frequently consults with principals, teachers and parents for preK-12 in the Diocese, as well as Catholic schools across the country.

DiLallo is also the author of several books and articles that address bullying and its impact, including: Peace Be With You Christ-Centered Bullying Solution, Peace2U Three Phase Bullying Solution, Peace Be With You Christ Centered Bullying Redirect, Bullying Redirect: New Strategies for Christian Educators and Bullying Redirect: New Strategies for Christian Parents.

Learn more about how the STOPit anonymous reporting solution is helping Catholic Schools build safer, more supportive school communities.

Radford Superintendent Says New App is ‘Lifesaving’

RADFORD, Va. – A local school district says a new app they’re using is lifesaving.

We first told you about the STOPit app in December, when Radford Public Schools were testing it.

Students can anonymously report anything concerning to school officials — from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm. The reports can include text, photos or video.

School Superintendent Rob Graham, says after a month of using STOPit, the program is a success and it saved a life.

They had reports of a possible attempted suicide and were able to stop it.

They are seeing other positives as well.

“We are seeing an increase in attendance as the culture and environment of school the students are able to report anonymously that they may be bullied. We’re also having some success in helping students that are having some emotional issues as well. It is well worth the money spent,” said Graham.

Graham says they had some false reports the first couple of days, but for the most part it’s worked really well. He says they will continue using it.

STOPit is used in schools and workplaces around the world.

Danville just started using the app this month, too.

STOPit says 54 schools in Virginia use the app and schools average between 30 to 40 reports a year.

Full Story

Sand Springs Public Schools Launching New App to Anonymously Report Bullying

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. — Sand Springs Public Schools is constantly looking for the latest technology, preparing for the worst.

On Tuesday they’re introducing the STOPit app, with the goal of addressing everything from cyber bullying to self-harm.

“You never want to be caught in a situation where something bad happens and you could have prevented it. That’s why you have to look into whatever is going on and see what you can do to make your rules, your protocols be better,” Central Ninth Grade Center principal JJ Smith said.

The app allows people to report anonymously, putting in pictures and information that go to administrators. Staff then talk to students to learn more about what’s going on.

“Bullying dictates a lot of behavior in the classroom that I see. I know there are kids that are completely silent because they’re terrified to draw any attention to themselves,” ninth grade teacher Becky Painter said.

Earlier this semester the district launched the CrisisGo app, which walked teachers through emergencies and pulls up rosters to keep track of everyone in the classroom. Educators said it gives peace of mind to have so many resources available in case of an incident.

“You always have it in the back of your mind when you see a kid with their head down that doesn’t normally have their head down. You’re always thinking about that. What’s going on with them today? You really never know. Sometimes you learn things about your students where you’re like “no wonder they’re struggling,” Painter said.

Smith is head of the safety committee and said they continue to look at new drills and technology, as well as input from parents.

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Seton Catholic Schools to Purchase Anti-Bullying App, STOPit

MILWAUKEE — The $100 million for school safety grants, from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, is allowing Seton Catholic Schools to buy a mobile app, called STOPit, that combat bullies.

The schools received more than $464,000 for safety updates to all 14 of its schools.

The Director of Student Services, Sam Coleman, says schools have installed new locks, cameras, intercom systems, and shatterproof film to glass. He agrees that making the schools more secure is incredibly important, but it’s also imperative they focus on their students’ mental health and wish to feel safe.

“We want students to feel empowered to lead. We want students to feel empowered to use their voice and speak up,” said Coleman.

Wednesday, at Blessed Sacrament Elementary, grades four through eight learned about STOPit. Granted, Santiago Andreas Hernandez Bustos says he hasn’t seen any bullying at his school, Saint Ramos. He still thinks it’s important to talk about.

“It matters because it’s people’s feelings,” said Bustos. “If I ever see bullying I’ll use the STOPit app.”

However, Katelyn Doepke, who attends Saint Charles Borromeo, says she’s had to step in and stand up for bullying victims.

“I do see bullying and it’s a big problem because kids have been very sad,” said Doepke.

The STOPit app allows students to anonymously report bullying, cyberbullying or any threats. The school then receives the message and handles the situation from there. Coleman says it’s very helpful in the cases of online issues, because being sent direct screenshots help tell the story.

Saint Charles Borromeo’s Principal Courtney Albright says when it comes to school safety, everyone has a part they must play, not just the students or the school.

“Absolutely, it’s really important that we approach this as a team. So that the students know that parents, teachers, the principals, the school staff are really all on the same page. We want them to feel safe at school,” said Albright.

Seton Catholic administrators say using technology, like the STOPit app, can truly help fight bullying in a different way.

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Yes, There’s an App for That: Schools in Greene are Using Technology to Combat Bullying

Schools in Greene County are taking a new step toward ending bullying through use of the STOPit app.

STOPit is a program that allows students to report bullying or other incidents to school counselors or administrators. The students can choose to be anonymous or not send a message with an optional picture or video. This report is then sent to the appropriate authorities at the school.

“STOPit is an app that students and parents alike can use in order to report anonymously,” said Dr. Kyle Pursel, director of administrative services for Greene County Public Schools. “It can be bullying, it can be harassment, it can be threats-anything that they feel is important for us to know.”

The app has a clear and concise goal of creating more “upstanders” instead of bystanders, as the app calls them. Upstanders are people who are willing to step up and say something instead of watching bullying happening.

“I hope that we can have more students be upstanders and help prevent something,” Pursel said. “If we can get them to be more preventative, that will be a benefit to all of us.”

So far, the students are receiving it well, he said. Slowly but surely they’re growing more accustomed to the app; it’s not just the students that are using it, but the teachers are starting to report incidents.

“I think the students are getting more comfortable with the app and in the last few weeks I’ve also seen the teachers using the app and reporting different things,” he said. “It’s great because the mental side for students is a big deal and if a teacher sees or maybe hears something that may be concerning that teacher can share it on the STOPit app.”

The app has already started making progress in the school, according to Pursel, noting that he’s pleasantly surprised by how well the students are receiving it. He and school counselors have been able to help mitigate events while they’re happening instead of after.

“Being an administrator myself at both the middle school and high school levels and knowing how things like this would typically get reported to us, a lot of the time it would be after the fact. Then it’s really hard to go back,” Pursel said.

The STOPit doesn’t just stop at bullying though. It takes on a much larger goal of letting students submit any worry they have. If anything is concerning students, they can use the app to talk with the guidance counselors.

One of the other important functions of STOPit is that it will allow students to report things that they may have not have been comfortable reporting in the past. Pursel noted that STOPit encourages students to report destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse or self-harm.

“You’re not in trouble, but we gotta talk about it,” Pursel said. “That friend, if he or she is cutting, they’re not in trouble. We have to find out what the root cause is and provide assistance. Parents and society, we need to know how frequent it is for students to be cutting.”

While STOPit won’t fix every problem, it’s a step toward a world where people are willing to step up and report bullying instead of passively standing by, he said.

For information on the program, visit stopitsolutions.com.

Van Vleck Enrolls in STOPit to Deter Conduct

Van Vleck ISD has enrolled with STOPit, the leading technology platform for schools that deters and controls harmful or inappropriate conduct.

STOPit empowers students with an easy app to safely and anonymously report anything of concern to school officials – from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm. STOPit empowers students to stand up for themselves and others while giving our schools the insight we need to keep students safe.

“Keeping our learning community safe for our students and staff is our number one priority. As young people continue to engage more with technology every day, we are taking a proactive step to empower our students to become upstanding citizens in our community in the way that they feel most comfortable. Giving students, staff and parents the ability to notify campus administrators of concerning issues in a safe and anonymous way is wonderful. This will definitely be an amazing tool for the safety of our students,” said Van Vleck Superintendent John R. O’Brien.

With STOPit, students can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos, or video. Administrators are then able to manage incidents in a backend management system called DOCUMENTit.

DOCUMENTit provides efficient and powerful investigative tools to our staff, including the ability to message with the reporter, which will allow us to address issues instantly.

STOPit does more than just help schools address incidents and mitigate risk. STOPit will also help us go beyond reacting to bullying and inappropriate behavior, and instead start deterring it.

“We believe our adoption of STOPit is an important step in our continued effort to provide a positive school climate and a safe learning environment for our students.,” O’Brien said.

Van Vleck’s STOPit program launched Monday, Nov. 5. For more information, please contact the campus administrator.

STOPit is the leading technology company providing a comprehensive software platform that mitigates, deters and controls bullying, including cyberbullying, harassment and other harmful or inappropriate conduct.

The STOPit platform is available to schools, universities, businesses and governments both in the United States and around the world. The STOPit mobile app is a simple, fast and powerful tool which empowers individuals to protect themselves and stand up for others online, on social media, in the classroom or in the office. DOCUMENTit, a robust incident management system, empowers administrators and management to get in front of issues to mitigate risk and adhere to the ever evolving compliance landscape.

To learn more about STOPit, please visit www.stopitsolutions.com or online at www.vvisd.org under the SECURITY TAB.

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Bradley County Schools and Bradley County Sheriff’s Office: Introducing STOPit

Bradley County Schools in partnership with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office announced a new anonymous reporting system – STOPiT

STOPit is the leading technology company providing software and services that mitigate, deter and control inappropriate conduct.

The STOPit solutions are available to schools, universities, workplaces, and governments around the world.

Anonymous and configurable reporting are available by mobile app, web app and phone tip line empowering individuals to protect themselves and stand up for others as well as reporting safety and crime issues.

STOPit provides valuable services to administrators including monitoring their incidents, content about issues and resolutions, training and promotion services, and investigation tools to help get in front of issues and manage risks.

Each Bradley County School, in joint partnership with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, utilizes the STOPit software and electronic application (e.g. smartphone app.) to encourage and facilitate anonymous or public reporting.

Students can download the STOPit application via their wireless provider’s online store at no charge. Ask your school’s administrator for the passcode.

If tips are called in by phone, the Sheriff’s tip line is 423-728-7311 ext.0.

Or visit the STOPiT website or the Department of Health Services website for more information.

Full Story

Pacelli Says STOPit to Bullying

(ABC 6 News) — By some estimates, nearly three-fourths of the students in the US have *seen* bullying at their schools … and as many as one-in-three in grades six through 12 have *experienced* bullying themselves.

Now, some students in Austin are saying “stop it”.

“At Pacelli it’s more of the little things that the big things,” freshman Lynsey McMahon said. “So say each little thing is like a brick. Eventually, you’ll end up with a wall.”

It’s become a 21st century epidemic. But now, there’s a 21st century way to deal with it.”

The Pacelli Catholic school system in Austin has enrolled with “STOPit”.

“It’s a technological platform that students can anonymously report any cases of bullying or cyber bullying, even any cases of self-harm or things they know about other people,” said Laura Mareel, Pacelli dean of students.

The Catholic Diocese of Winona is providing STOPit for all of its schools in the diocese.

Staff members at Pacelli trained with STOPit this summer, and launched it for students in early October.

“I think we’re probably averaging one or two reports a day” dean of students laura Mareel said.

“When we didn’t have STOPit people were afraid to report because the bully has so much power” freshman Lynsey McMahon told us.

“Kids almost get the backlash for saying that they’ve witnessed bullying or they’re scared to say they’re bullied themselves because they think that something worse will happen,” sophomore Abigail Nelson said.

“The person that is doing it, they’re not going to tell anybody. The person that is having it done to them, they’re not going to tell anybody. And the person that sees it, they’re not going to tell anybody” Pacelli senior Trace Fishbaugher said. “But with this app, two out of those three people are going to tell somebody.”

“They get that feeling in their gut in their conscience that is telling them that something’s happening that is not right and this is their way to anonymously report it so that administration can get involved and hopefully stop the situations that are happening,” Pacelli’s Laura Mareel said.

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Los Lunas Police Launch New App Service for Submitting Tips

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The Los Lunas Police Department is offering a new way to submit tips about criminals through a mobile app.

The police department will launch the “STOPit” program Thursday.

The app lets the tipster upload images, videos and documents all while ensuring you’ll be completely anonymous.

To access the program, download the STOPit app and enter access code: LosLunasPD.

The app will replace the text-a-tip program.

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Pacelli Enrolls with STOPit to Empower, Protect Students

Pacelli Catholic School has enrolled with STOPit, the leading technology platform for schools that deters and controls harmful or inappropriate conduct. STOPit empowers students with an easy app to safely and anonymously report anything of concern to school officials – from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm. STOPit empowers students to stand up for themselves and others while giving our school the insight we need to keep students safe. “With STOPit, students have the power to protect themselves and others from harmful, inappropriate, or unsafe behavior. STOPit makes it easy for students to do the right thing,” stated Jean McDermott, Principal of Pacelli. With STOPit, students can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos, or video. Administrators are then able to manage incidents in a backend management system called DOCUMENTit. DOCUMENTit provides efficient and powerful investigative tools to our staff, including the ability to message with the reporter, which allows us to address issues instantly. STOPit does more than just help schools address incidents and mitigate risk. STOPit will also help us go beyond reacting to bullying and inappropriate behavior, and instead start deterring it. As young people continue to engage more with technology every day, we are taking a proactive step to empower our students to become upstanders in our community in the way that they feel most comfortable. We believe our adoption of STOPit is an important step in our continued effort to provide a positive school climate and a safe learning environment for our students. Our STOPit program launch took place last week with students learning about the program during a school assembly and parents receiving information at conferences. Full Story
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