Sexual Assault Awareness Month is April: Stay Informed, Stay Vigilant and Take Action to Combat Sexual Assault

The momentum of movements like Me Too and Time’s Up is causing society to make a major shift in how we discuss and react to sexual violence, as well as how sexual assaults are identified, reported, and prevented. And there is no time is better to lead and participate in these discussions than now, since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a time when survivors and advocacy groups work to raise awareness surrounding the pervasive issue of sexual violence.

And the prevalence of sexual assault can be shocking.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC):

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
  • 90% of college sexual assault victims don’t report the assault.
  • Rape is the most underreported crime: 63% of cases are never reported to police.

These statistics make it clear that sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem. Moreover, in addition to immediate costs such as medical expenses and missed wages, sexual assault can have devastating long-term impacts like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

What’s not as clear, as evidenced by a growing body of research, is how victims can safely reach out to report incidents and ask for help. Anecdotal and peer-reviewed research both confirm that victims of sexual assault, rape, or sexual abuse almost unanimously report that it is often confusing to know where to turn to report an incident — and it’s always intimidating.

Statistics and surveys are also showing that while the #MeToo movement may be encouraging more victims feel to come forward, victims and witnesses are not reporting these attacks using traditional methods. Survivors have given the following reasons for not reporting a sexual assault:

  • Fear of retaliation
  • Scared of hostile treatment by the authorities
  • Uncertain that authorities would consider the incident serious enough
  • Did not want family or friends to know about it
  • Didn’t know how to report the incident

Workplaces and schools can take a modern approach to protecting their people and their reputation by utilizing smartphone apps like STOPit as a 21st century solution. These tools are designed to create a safe space for students and employees to report incidents freely—and without fear. The hope is that by making it simple and anonymous, people will be encouraged to report, which allows for real-time, positive intervention for the victim as well as the additional benefit of helping to quickly identify repeat offenders.

Learn More About How STOPit Can Empower People to be Courageous When Confronting Sexual Assault

It’s encouraging to recognize that safe, anonymous reporting tools and improvements in organizational cultures are bolstering the courage of bystanders — giving them the confidence to get involved in protecting their co-workers by providing corroborating evidence in support of a friend’s, classmate’s or co-worker’s report. In a problem this serious, we celebrate every step forward.

“I Ask” for “Awareness to Action”

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a leading nonprofit in providing information and tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence, has adopted “I Ask” as their theme for this year’s SAAM. The campaign, “champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.” Words and actions shape our world and culture: raising awareness of how often sexual violence happens; talking about consent; sharing safety, prevention, and reporting strategies; and learning helpful and compassionate ways to talk to survivors are the goals of SAAM.

The good news is that individuals, communities, and companies are already taking important steps to successfully combat the risk of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse through conversations, programs, policies, and tools that promote safety, respect, and equality. Marriott has received a lot of recent, positive press for its corporate commitment to stamping out human trafficking in the hospitality industry.

Campaigns like #MeTooK12 and RAAIN’S Awareness to Action, provide everything from statistics to help define the problem and put it in context, to practical tools like scripts for how to hold a conversation with friends, family and community about sexual violence. They even provide ready-to-go graphics and campaign hashtags to help promote the conversation on social media platforms.

Encouraging as these campaigns are, however, we need to stay committed to working for real, lasting solutions to sexual violence in our workplaces, schools and communities. Recent news stories like the one that exposed rampant corruption —  including cheating and bribery — in the college admissions scandal, make it easier for us to allow the seriousness of this issue fade into the background and threaten to drown out emerging conversations that are calling for action — like those that are happening right now in higher education.

In fact, sexual misconduct is the most frequently reported and managed incident type on the STOPit app for Higher Education customers. Cases brought against campuses, including William Paterson University, and Ivy League schools such as Yale University where three students have filed a class-action lawsuit, arguing that the university has enabled a fraternity culture of harassment, remind us to remain engaged and vigilant — even as we celebrate progress towards the goal of making sexual harassment and victimization, rare.

Let’s Do More All Year Long to Combat Sexual Assault.

What else can be done to help? Individuals can show support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, correct harmful misconceptions, and promote everyday consent.

Though it is certainly a good thing that SAAM gives us an opportunity to come together as a community to learn more and do more, one month isn’t enough to solve the widespread issue of sexual violence. However we can use the attention SAAM generates as an opportunity to energize and expand prevention efforts throughout the year.

The NSVRC is calling on supporters to wear teal on April 2, their “Day of Action,” as a way to spread awareness and show solidarity with survivors.

For more ideas and opportunities to get involved all month long, visit these organizations online:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

RAAIN

NO MORE

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Each voice is powerful and necessary in preventing sexual violence, misconduct, and abuse. SAAM is a powerful a reminder that we can change the world through the things we say and do each day.

For more information about STOPit and how organizations are using the anonymous reporting app to encourage healthier, safer communities, workplaces and schools, call one of our safety solutions experts, today.

Moms Empower Bystanders To Become Upstanders with Technology: STOPit Joins Experts for Podcast On Bullying in Schools

Moms Empower Bystanders To Become Upstanders with Technology:

STOPit Joins Experts for Podcast On Bullying in Schools

Recently, Neil Hooper, COO of STOPit Solutions, appeared on WJCT Radio with host of First Coast Connect, Melissa Ross, and fellow guests Dr. David Chesire of the University of Florida Health Jacksonville and Bryna Rodenhizer, Contributor to the Jacksonville Moms Blog. During the nearly 30 minute interview, they talked frankly about the impact of bullying in schools, including the importance of empowering bystanders to be part of the solution to what UNESCO recently named a global epidemic.

We’re happy to share an excerpt of this conversation here, as well as a link to the audio for the entire morning show segment.

WJCT is a local affiliate of NPR Radio.

Melissa Ross: Good morning, we’re live from studio five, and this is First Coast Connect. I’m Melissa Ross, and thanks for listening. Just ahead this morning, how local schools are empowering kids to use their phones to stop bullying and cyber abuse.

Melissa Ross: Next week the Glenn County, Georgia school system plans to launch a new program called STOPit. It’s a new technology platform that helps schools stop bullying, cyber abuse, threats of violence, kids self-harming, and other troublesome behaviors. Now, the way STOPit works is students can submit anonymous reports through the platform, either by text message, photos, or video. They go straight to school administrators, who can then conduct investigations and make schools safer. We’re really curious to learn more about STOPit, so we’re going to take a closer look at this new app, and also, how bullying affects kids in schools and how that’s being studied here in our area.

Melissa Ross: As we welcome Dr. David Chesire, associate professor, University of Florida Health Jax. He’s on the line. Good morning doctor.

Dr. David C.: Good morning, glad to be here.

Melissa Ross: Neil Hooper is with us. He’s the Chief Operating Officer for STOPit, also joining us by phone. Hi Neil.

Melissa Ross: (also) Joining us here in studio, Bryna Rodenhizer. She’s a contributor to the Jacksonville Moms Blog. Bryna, good morning to you.

Bryna R.: Good morning.

Melissa Ross: Thanks for being with us. Okay. In a moment we’ll learn a little bit more about the STOPit…

Neil Hooper: Hi Melissa.

Melissa Ross: Hi Neil, Chief Operating Officer of STOPit. Thanks for being with us. All right, STOPit, this new app that’s going to launch next week up in Georgia, in Glenn County, how does it work?

Neil Hooper: Well, I think you gave a great introduction. We’re in over 3,000 schools now and what happens is we announce to the students that the app is available, they go to the app store or Google Play and download the app. They type in their school code and then their messages are routed directly to school administrators. It works really well and actually what the audience may be interested in is the … We often find that it’s a bystander that is submitting the report.

Melissa Ross: Right. Empowering kids who are not either bullies or being bullied to speak up, the bystander effect, that’s been studied in schools. This is a way for kids who might, I guess, feel intimidated about speaking up to do so. Is that right?

Neil Hooper: Well, that’s right, and key to our solution is that we provide anonymity for the students. The greatest fear that most kids have in school is being labeled a snitch. I think we can all … I think many of us would agree that our kids are good kids and they want to do the right thing, but they’re afraid to do the right thing, so by making it anonymous, they can have the courage to do the right thing, speak up when they know something is wrong, and as I said, the message will be routed directly to the school and then the school with the STOPit platform can communicate back and forth with the student on the app and gather more information about what’s going on.

Neil Hooper: We find that giving the kids an avenue to speak up and then giving the school a way to communicate back and forth with that brave reporter can help us get to the bottom of issues before they spiral out of control. I think the downstream effects of not addressing bullying can be really scary and we’re seeing some horrible statistics nationally about youth depression and youth suicide and we really want to get ahead of these things before they spiral out of control.

Melissa Ross: Just last week, a 10 year old boy in Louisville, Kentucky committed suicide and his parents say it’s because he had been bullied at school over a medical condition, a medical defect that he had, and so Neil, this is very serious business, kids are killing themselves. Let me ask you though as a follow up, with the STOPit app, are you concerned at all about kids using it maliciously, filing false reports and are there legal issues, liability issues around kids taking videos and sending them to administrators?

Neil Hooper: Well, I’ll take the legal question first. The good news is that these solutions are protected by federal law, so there is no issue whatsoever of a minor reporting these things to the school. The network is entirely private, so the students reports go only to the school and then the school communicates back and forth to students. So, that is … There’s no liability there that’s been investigated, and we abide by COPPA and FERPA and other related federal laws, so that’s okay.

Neil Hooper: The schools themselves have, of course, the responsibility to read these messages if they’re sent in, and we provide a service and Glenn County has added this service, we’ll actually monitor the account for our schools to make sure that they’re made aware that something has been reported. We’ll contact the school to let them know a child has sent something, so we really have their backs, so to speak, to make sure that if something is reported, it’s taken care of.

Melissa Ross: Bryna. Bryna Rodenhizer, who writes for the Jacksonville Moms Blog, and you’ve written about bullying, as a parent, as you’re listening to this, what are your thoughts?

Bryna R.: Oh, I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s great to have that resource available for children who are old enough to use it. I think that it is a great segue from teaching younger children how to address bullying, and then once they’re older, and it’s appropriate to use that app, I think it’s fantastic.

Melissa Ross: Dr. David Cheshire is on the line with us from UF Health Jax. Until recently you were a trauma psychologist, and Dr. Cheshire, UF Health has even been conducting a study on the public health effects of school bullying, what are your thoughts about the way new technological innovations are being developed to address this issue, because certainly schools have tried all kinds of avenues to deal with bullying? What about this?

Dr. David C.: Yeah, no, I always say when we do public health meetings, the second we start talking about bullying, that’s the rest of the meeting, it’s what we’re going to talk about from that point forward, because it is such a sprawling problem and difficult to deal with. I’m in favor of any tools that are out there that we can use if they’re effective, and this one sounds like a great one. It’s going to be as effective as the school makes it. I like what he (Hooper) said earlier about the school’s (being) ultimately responsible for investigating what’s going on. I think that’s where basically everything’s going to fall.

Dr. David C.: For children, well, for anybody really, but for children in particular, what’s most important is that they feel that they’ll be believed when they make a report, that they feel that there’ll be some sort of follow up and that they don’t have the fear of retaliation, which kind of gets to that question you had about will this be used actually in and of itself be bullying too? So to the extent that kids feel comfortable with this, I think it’d be an amazing tool to try to identify and ultimately defeat bullying in schools.

Melissa Ross: Neil Hooper of STOPit, this is enrolling next week in Glenn county, Georgia. You’re also in some other Florida school districts and districts all over the country. Correct? I believe you’re even looking at using this app in adult workplaces as well. Is that right?

Neil Hooper: That’s right. We have 12 live accounts in Florida. We’re new to Florida, and we’re expanding across the country, and yes, the issues that we’re describing in schools, I think we would all agree often are seen in the workplace as well, around harassment and discrimination concerns. Once again, these things happen and people are afraid to speak up because they’re afraid about their job. So the power of STOPit is with the ability to report anonymously and for the right people to communicate back to the individual to gather more information about what’s going on.

Melissa Ross: How about the fact too that kids use their phones to bully each other, to cyber bully each other, so in effect you’re giving children a weapon, I guess, to fight back, empowering them to use their phones to turn the dynamic around, it sounds like?

Neil Hooper: Well, Melissa, I’m glad you brought that up, and that’s … What you’ve just said there was the formation of our company. We noticed that with the advent of smartphones, and kids over the last few years have increasing access to both smartphones and social media applications, they are using those devices and those applications to cyber bully. Often the cyber bullying is done in a group environment, imagine in many of these cases, there are three or four or five or six classmates picking on another student in one of these group text settings. As you said, we can turn this situation around. You can take a screenshot of this horrible behavior, attach it to a STOPit report, send it to the administration and you have an adult step in and put an end to this very bad behavior.

Melissa Ross: Bryna Rodenhizer of the Jacksonville Moms blog, this is something you’ve blogged about, how important it is to educate kids not to be silent if they see another child being bullied or harmed. There’s a documentary film about this, Submit, The Documentary, that you’ve blogged about. Do you think that, with your own kids, I know that with your own kids you’ve had to talk to them about bullying and try to comfort them sometimes when they’ve dealt with school bullies as so many of us have as parents. It’s terrifying as a parent to think about your child being treated this way.

Bryna R.: The bystander effect is real. Bystanders can do a lot of good, or they can do a lot of harm. Right. They absolutely can. It’s important to me as a mom to teach my children the importance of being a safe place for their friends and their neighbors, people in the community. Teaching them that they should always be a warm and welcoming place that someone would feel safe to tell them if something was making them sad or hurting their feelings.

Melissa Ross: Dr. Cheshire with UF Health, can you bring us up to date? I don’t think you’re the lead author on the study, but on the study that UF Health is conducting right now about bullying and how it is a public health crisis for young people.

Dr. David C.: Sure. Basically, the numbers are kind of all over the place depending on the research you’re looking at, for how often bullying occurs and not just focusing on those being bullied, the survivors of bullying, but also the bullies themselves because so many people who are bullying had been bullied for themselves. The reason that so much of the research right now is looking at children, is because this is the formative time where people are learning how to deal with adversity, and so the very same coping strategies that they learn and what’s effective and what keeps them safe, is what they’re going to take with them into adulthood, and so if you learn that aggression for the sake of aggression worked for you as a bully, you’re probably going to bring that with you to college and beyond, and it’s going to start getting you into all kinds of trouble there.

Dr. David C.: So focusing on children to learn more effective strategies of how to deal with adversity, how to deal with not getting your own way, and also how to deal when somebody is stepping on your own rights, who to go to, where are safe places to go. And absent that, too often people isolate themselves because they don’t trust the authority, or they don’t know who to go to, or which adults to go to, and there’s so many resources out there from the school teacher, to the principal, to the school psychologist, to the school social worker, and on and on, the children don’t feel safe with those people. They isolate themselves and become further targets for bullying too because they lose their resources.

Melissa Ross: All right. I’ll have to leave it there. Bryna Rodenhizer, Jax Moms Blog. Neil Hooper, who is the COO of STOPit, and Dr. David Chesire of UF Health Jax. Thanks so much.

There IS a solution.

STOPit has had the great privilege of meeting people all over the country and around the world who are bravely, and effectively, addressing the issues of bullying, harassment and intimidation. With each conversation, we are more encouraged than ever that bullying and its consequences may one day soon be the exception rather than the rule in school culture, workplace culture and our communities.

For more information about STOPit and its impact, including how the mobile app empowers bystanders to become upstanders, call us now and speak with one of our subject experts.

Looking To The Future With AGRiP: Insurance Pools Leverage Technology To Lower Risk And Liability Claims For Members

The Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP) is the leading national association for pool management, as well as the recognized authority on and informational resource for intergovernmental risk and benefits pooling. These pools cover the full spectrum of public entity organizations: state agencies, higher education, public education, all forms of local government, health care facilities, and not-for-profit organizations. They also provide a wide range of property, casualty, workers’ compensation, and employee benefits programs for their members. AGRiP has spent more than two decades energizing the power of public entity pools, making member organizations more effective, collaborative, and informed.

With more than 215 member pools, AGRiP has a compelling history but their real focus is on the future. It’s this forward-thinking approach that made it obvious to Neil Hooper, COO of STOPit Solutions, that the leader in mobile, anonymous reporting technology needed to attend the 2019 Governance & Leadership Conference, March 3rd-6th.

“The sessions are insightful and the opportunity to share experiences with industry peers is extremely valuable,” said Hooper. “Pressing issues like SAM claims as well as emerging issues like cyber security are affecting many pools and their members, and it’s important to spend time sharing experiences. We are honored to be able to participate as a core solution for public entities and their risk management teams.”

This year’s Governance & Leadership conference, themed Navigating Change, focused on on thought diversity and inclusivity in the public entity pooling environment. In addition to traditional sessions on leadership and governance, this year’s conference included an increased emphasis on best practices for leveraging technology, making it obvious that AGRiP isn’t relying on its history when serving customers — it’s setting a course for a better future that includes lowering risk and liability for all customers.

New and emerging technology presents an important opportunity for all industries, including insurance pools. Neil Hooper went to St. Louis with colleague Jeff Schobel to meet with these governing bodies to share the latest analytics and trends gleaned from STOPit’s incident management tools so that insurance pool partners know and understand the value—both operationally and and to the member—of technologies like STOPit.

“STOPit has emerged as the leader in K12, and over the past year we have emerged as a leader in the workplace setting for municipal pool employees as well,” said Hooper. “Working to reduce claims for our partners and sharing the success stories of using STOPit reporting to address behavior issues before they spiral out of control is a wonderful experience.”

The School Pool for Excess Liability Limits Joint Insurance Fund (SPELL JIF) program, a joint insurance fund for 76 public school districts in New Jersey, is one example of how STOPit is utilized by pools. The pool is paying for schools to use the STOPit app to reduce bullying, assist school safety, and reduce the risk of claims and exposure to claims.

“The response that boys will be boys and girls will be girls, that’s just not acceptable anymore,” says Scott Tennant, Deputy Executive Director of SPELL JIF. “That’ll cost you money, and if you’re an insurer you know that’ll cost you a lot of money.”

SPELL JIF provides STOPit to its member schools as an effective tool to report cyberbullying issues and other misconduct. The sophisticated analytics tools which enable schools to collect and interpret their reporting data is what separates the award-winning STOPit app from its competition. By utilizing one of several highly customizable reporting tools included in the STOPit Solution, schools can easily spot signs of ongoing problems or patterns that can help predict – and ultimately thwart – future issues.

“(STOPit) provides the opportunity for us to learn immediately about things that are occurring, to have correct information and to intervene quickly,” says Tennant. “That reduces that claim stream and for every one of those events, we can check off $100,000-plus saved.”

Watch the full interview here: https://youtu.be/doIpKuDJDIs

Speakers at the AGRiP conference provided practical advice on dynamic new ways public pools can approach coverage, claims, litigation, and risk management, including how anonymous reporting is making an positive impact. As a risk management resource, the STOPit Insurance Solution offers insurance partners valuable data and insights about patterns and trends across their insurance members. With STOPit, insurance partners are better positioned to understand behavior, stop issues before they become claims, facilitate compliance, and gain insight into where there are opportunities for risk mitigation resources. This puts the future in the hands of those providing and utilizing anonymous reporting apps like STOPit.

Innovative approaches are not just forward-thinking: they may help better risk management and reduce the cost and pervasiveness of claims for preventable behavior-based liability issues. And anonymous reporting technologies can be an important and enterprising part of this solution, as insured individuals are empowered to step forward and report issues safely and in the way people communicate today—on their phone and on the go. By utilizing technologies like STOPit, insureds can stop reacting to issues and start preventing them.

“At STOPit we are making massive investments in people, processes, and innovative technology,” said Hooper. “The benefits of reducing risk and addressing liability concerns is delivering benefits to our pools by reducing claims, and to their members by helping reinforce a positive culture and climate.”

For more information about STOPit for your company or organization, call now and speak with one of our insurance solutions experts.

It’s Not the Beer: Company Culture That Really Attracts and Retains Millennial Employees

You might think that your employees and the candidates you’re hoping to attract want a company culture that’s fun and free. Xbox in the lounge!

But what they really want is to feel safe and supported.

Your employees and future candidates look to your company culture and values as a reflection of how they will and should be treated. Understanding how your company is viewed by employees, both current and prospective, can help you then understand the type of talent you attract and keep. In honor of Employee Appreciation Day, March 1, take a couple of minutes to think about how your company’s culture, values, and perks align, and what impact that has on your bottom line.

Perks aren’t just fun and games: team lunches and beer tastings have their place, but there are benefits that have more meaning and reflect the culture you want to embrace. If being direct is an important value at your company, encouraging feedback and rewarding transparency will help reinforce that part of your culture. And gathering information from employees with anonymous reporting apps like STOPit can help facilitate the process of reporting behavior and function as a premium perk that helps companies address behavior proactively.

Assess Your Current Culture — And React

And according to a survey by Deloitte, company culture is the second most important priority, behind pay, for millenials when they are considering a role at a company. The same survey also says 60 percent of millennials are predicted to leave their current company by 2020. What you do now in regards to workplace culture can impact if or how that projection effects your organization.

As workplace culture is obviously important to attracting and retaining talented employees, particularly millennials, addressing the issues behind these statistics could mean the difference between your company thriving or failing. And the difference between keeping a great staff or losing them due to toxic behaviors that senior management is either enabling or unaware of.

More and more business leaders are taking steps to assess their current culture, identifying areas for improvement, gathering information from employees with anonymous reporting apps like STOPit, and training employees on what is and is not acceptable workplace behavior. Clearly articulating your core values, fostering open communication, offering robust onboarding and mentoring programs, and modeling best behaviors can help align every member of your team around a shared and thriving set of expectations.

Workers Are Tuned in to Incidents Of Discrimination

A study by the Institute for Public Relations and leading global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick says that nearly 60 percent of all employed Americans report that they have seen or heard about some form of discrimination at their workplace, and millennials are more likely to be attuned to these issues.

“It has long been understood that diversity and inclusion initiatives are essential for business success but also for career choices being made by millennials,” said IPR Trustee and Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross in a press release.

Unfortunately, even with the best training, decision making, and leadership, discrimination and harassment can still occur. Educating and empowering your employees to utilize reporting methods to share (without fear) any issues they see at work can help senior staff address potential issues before they become major problems.

Get Ahead Of These Issues (Or Face Unnecessary Risks)

To help prevent workplace harassment and discrimination, companies need to create environments where employees feel comfortable anonymously reporting incidents, and develop  an effective process to hold workers accountable.

STOPit offers completely anonymous reporting via a mobile app. With an interface like texting the app is easy for employees to use discreetly while on the job to report harassment, discrimination, favoritism, fraud, and other issues. Back end incident management systems help employers directly follow up with employees anonymously to gather more information, while ensuring secure evidence collection and compliance. STOPit can also automate a company’s current processes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investigations.

“A company who wants to maximize results takes the results of reporting and assessment and then connects management and employees with education content rooted in proven, actionable solutions,” said Roger Duffield, President of in2vate, a risk management program.

To learn more about how workplaces are integrating data and anonymous reporting to satisfy compliance requirements and improve company culture, click here.

And although the right data and tools are important to success, continued improvement is just as dependent on continued learning and continued implementation. A thriving company culture, the kind that millennials seek out and stay at, are found at organizations that actively gather feedback and then act on what they learn. And when the right values are being upheld and the right behaviors are in place, it’s still important to continue monitoring issues like pending investigations and recently filed complaints, to help proactively spot and address cultural risks and vulnerabilities.

Call STOPit today to learn more about how companies are using mobile technology to protect their corporate cultures.

Women In Tech: Fixing The ‘Leaky Pipeline’

Gender diversity is a necessity for business success, but the “leaky pipeline,” where women disappear from career and leadership trajectories at all stages of their career, still impacts women in corporate settings of all sizes.

A report from the Kapor Center gives tech companies a how-to guide on repairing that “leaky pipeline.” Even though the gender gap is widely discussed, women continue to leave or get left behind at every step of their career—from entry level positions to management roles. The report identified some of the underlying reasons women have issues in tech companies, including:

  • Biases in recruiting and hiring
  • Limited access to social networks dominated by men
  • A toxic workplace culture, harassment, inequitable pay, bias in promotion-that cause a decrease in job satisfaction and high turnover

“We have a problem, and we need to work together to solve it,” Freada Kapor Klein, a partner with Kapor Capital and founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, said to USA Today.

While the tech sector channels their innovative thinking into interventions that work, on-the-job training about appropriate workplace behavior and anonymous reporting opportunities like the STOPit app can be an immediate help to reduce the number of women who quit a job due to suffering through a toxic culture.

The High Cost of A Toxic Work Culture

Turnover isn’t just expensive, it hurts morale and can take away much needed expertise and invaluable institutional knowledge. There are more serious costs for businesses too: low morale and high employee turnover can damage a company’s reputation and threaten its future success.

Business leaders, from small startups to gigantic corporations, need to develop and lead an inclusive and supportive culture to retain high-performing employees. Tammy Perkins left a series of leadership roles at Amazon and Microsoft to become Chief People Officer and Managing Partner of Fjuri, a cutting-edge marketing startup.

“One of the most difficult parts of starting a new company is focusing on growth, while taking time to create the team structure you need to support that growth,” said Perkins in an interview with INC.

Every company has a culture that is constantly evolving and changing. Culture is not something you have, it is something you do.

Improve results for recruitment and retention. Limit liability. Learn more.

“Intertwined with the way you work as a team is your culture—and great cultures start with a foundation of empowerment, engagement and accountability,” said Perkins.

Tech Solutions for Tech Problems

Not every startup can boast the same degree of work-culture integrity as Fjuri. Tech startups have had a reputation for having a “bro” culture where women experience pay inequality, sexual harassment, and a discriminatory work environment. That does seem to be changing, however. The ability for leadership to be nimble and pivot, qualities that are integral to a successful startup, have also allowed many tech companies — big and small — to change their culture and offer women a place to thrive.

And now is the time for every company to conduct a frank self-assessment of their culture and make that change: A report from Gallup found that nearly half of female employees say they are actively looking for a different job or watching for new opportunities.

In a recent study, 70% of women surveyed by Forbes said they felt that the #MeToo movement had no impact on their workplace. So while equal pay, satisfying working conditions, investment in your health, and a large percentage of women at every management level may help identify companies that are good employers for women, there is still work to be done.

“I have been working on diversity in tech for many decades. It’s sobering to see the lack of progress,” said Kapor Klein.

The Bottom Line

Companies can improve the working conditions for their female employees by creating a better and more accountable culture, establishing training programs covering appropriate workplace behavior, and offering anonymous reporting opportunities like the STOPit mobile app, a simple, fast and powerful tool that empowers individuals to protect themselves and others.

Call STOPit today to learn how companies of all sizes are using STOPit’s mobile technology solution to promote and protect their corporate cultures.

WeTip Anonymous Reporting Empowers Citizens to Thwart Welfare Fraud

Image courtesy of GotCredit on Flickr

As citizens of the wealthiest nation on earth, Americans are committed to providing a social safety net for friends, neighbors and even strangers who are going through tough times. But they have little patience for people who take advantage of their generosity, and those who cross that line risk paying a price.

Dating back to the legislative initiatives of the New Deal and the Great Society, America has had a suite of welfare programs in place, from unemployment insurance to food stamps, to help people meet their basic needs. Although the screening process for this aid is rigorous, a small percentage of cheaters do manage to game the system. Those who are caught often make the wrong kind of headlines, fueling outrage that places political support for the programs – and the honest taxpayers who rely on them – in jeopardy.

It’s impossible to say how widespread welfare fraud really is in the U.S. Studies have pegged the percentage of recipients cheating by one means or another as low as the low single digits to as high as one-third to half. What no one disputes, though, is that rooting out cheaters is costly and difficult.

The manpower required to monitor welfare is expensive and staffing levels are stretched too thin to put every application under a microscope. As a result, states are increasingly turning to taxpayers to help police the system with anonymous tip lines.

STOPit’s partner WeTip is an industry leader in welfare fraud reporting, having served the nation with anonymous tip programs for nearly 50 years. Since 2006, WeTip has received over 29,000 anonymous tips regarding welfare fraud, leading to thousands of convictions, according to company CEO Sue Aguilar. In Los Angeles County alone, the WeTip Welfare Fraud Program thwarted hundreds of scams in its first five years, saving taxpayers over $18 million, she said.

“More people than ever are reaching out and turning in someone they suspect of welfare fraud,” Aguilar said. “The WeTip Program is successfully attacking welfare fraud one case at a time.”

All allegations are assigned to a special investigations unit to assess their veracity. Those who are found to be in violation can face penalties from mandatory restitution payments to jail time. Often, citizens reaching out to report fraud will share other information of interest to law enforcement.

One key to WeTips success is that their operators are trained to route tips appropriately and send to associated agencies when needed. A fraud call may uncover other issues in the community as these fraud cases can be complex. “Many, many times, the WeTip informant will give additional information regarding child and elder abuse. Those tips are also relayed to child and adult protective services,” Aguilar said.

For information on implementing an anonymous welfare fraud reporting program in your community, call WeTip at (909) 987-5005 ext. 230. Live operators staff the phones 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. WeTip has no taping, tracing or caller ID. Contact WeTip if your community or service would like to add a tip line.

Empowering School Administrators and Students with New Libraries of Social and Emotional Learning Content

They say the three R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) are the cornerstone of a good education, but don’t SEL short the importance of social and emotional learning.

Each day children go to school, they broaden their perspectives through their course work and structured instruction. At the same time, each conversation they have with their peers, every emotion they feel when they get back a test score, each time they interact with children different than themselves, they are navigating a social and emotional learning (SEL) process that will help form who they are and who they’ll become in life.

A growing body of evidence suggests that a student’s SEL environment can significantly impact their academic success. Those who feel confident and comfortable in the classroom tend to be better-focused and more engaged students. In response, school districts across the country are incorporating SEL lessons into their curricula from the early years on through high school.

A November report by the nonprofit Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a leader in the research and advocacy of SEL programs in U.S. schools, concluded that most high school students believe their schools could do a better job of helping them develop SEL skills. CASEL surveyed 1,300 current students and recent graduates of high schools that were rated as having high, medium or low SEL capabilities – that is, tools and programs specifically geared toward helping educators develop key social and emotional skills. Overall, students from strong SEL schools reported doing much better academically and feeling better prepared for life than those in weak SEL schools. Among the other findings:

  • Nearly nine out of 10 students at strong SEL schools felt motivated to work hard and do their best in school, compared to just 39 percent of students in weak SEL schools.
  • More than half of the current high school students said that feeling stressed and dealing with disruptive students in class make it harder for them to learn and do their best in school.
  • Citing the trends with younger students, Project Achieve confirms that Elementary School Principals’ biggest concern is addressing students’ behavior and emotional problems.
  • Vulnerable students feel especially impacted by social and emotional problems in school. For example, students from lower-income homes are less likely to feel comfortable participating (39 percent) and excited about learning (48 percent) in school than their more privileged peers.

STOPit Solutions is the only anonymous reporting application to offer SEL resources for educators and student users. The STOPit SEL Center contains an easy-to-search database of articles, studies, video, audio and other content covering topics from bullying to depression. It is carefully curated by a team of experts, sparing users the time and effort required to sift through Google returns and determine if they’re reputable.

The SEL content has a natural connection to STOPit’s mission, as the most frequently reported incident types closely align with the kinds of stressors that impede student learning. The top five most common incidents of the 2017-18 school year were misconduct, harassment, bullying, substance abuse and threats.

Administrators can share anonymous links to SEL content that are untraceable, giving students the comfort of knowing that their conversations will remain private.

“The SEL Center library gives both staff and students access to accurate and timely information right through the STOPit app – and makes the STOPit platform truly different than standard tip apps,” said Wally Leipart, a K-4 school principal and administrator in the Gilman (Wis.) School District. “The SEL content library has increased our confidence that we can properly respond to our students.”

STOPit’s broadcast feature also makes it possible to send anonymous links to a full student body at once. This can be especially useful in times when an administrator would like to address an emerging school-wide problem.

“Suicidal ideation is very prevalent right now and we’re getting more and more reports about it,” STOPit COO Neil Hooper said. “If there’s content you’d like to send around for a special topic area like that, you can just get the anonymous link, type in a message and broadcast it out to everyone who has the app.”

Contact STOPit today to learn more about how we can assist with your school’s SEL efforts.

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.

Safe and Sound: Hospitality and Travel Industries Empowering Employees

At hotels across the world, the front desk clerk asks questions to make sure that their guests’ stay is up to par. And on flights that crisscross the sky, the flight attendant walks around the cabin making small talk to make sure everyone on the flight is comfortable. But these dedicated staff are not just providing excellent customer service. The reality is that these hospitality and travel industry employees are on the front lines of ensuring public safety. And with the right questions, these well-trained staff members might uncover information that is anything but routine.

Through new programs and initiatives, airlines and hotels are taking proactive security measures and giving their employees the tools and training to help identify and report safety issues. By training staff to recognize and report suspicious behaviors and activity to the appropriate authorities, travel and hospitality companies can help make a difference in the communities they serve and possibly save lives. Utilizing mobile reporting options like the STOPit mobile app is one way that hospitality industry leaders can begin making this important difference in the lives of their employees and guests.

Law Enforcement Partners

When law enforcement knows that hotel and travel companies are their partners on public safety issues, a collaborative and productive relationship can grow. That relationship improves the community and helps victims–and limits liability for hospitality industry employees, owners, and brands.

Protecting guests and employees can also help protect–and even strengthen–a business’ reputation. By teaching staff how to identify and report issues, businesses can identify warning signals, mitigate risk, and even deter crime. It’s not just due diligence: ensuring that staff across all fronts are trained to identify and report key indicators is critical for success. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there need to be different instructions for different roles since the signs a front desk clerk needs to be alert of may be different from that of a housekeeper or a parking lot attendant. Homeland Security offers a training toolkit available in both English and Spanish.

Employee Safety

In September 2018, in a show of unity in the competitive hotelier industry, Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, IHG, Marriott International, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) announced the 5-Star Promise, their commitment to advancing employee and guest safety on their properties. AHLA members have committed to implementing better policies, training, and resources aimed at improving hotel worker and guest safety. One of the key goals of the 5-Star Promise is to provide all U.S. hotel employees with employee safety devices, also called portable panic buttons, by 2020. Participating hotels will have a wide range of options to choose from, including noise-emitting features and emergency GPS tracking available at the push of a button.

Tackling Human Trafficking

Assuring guest privacy is an important priority for the hospitality and travel industries. But human traffickers can take advantage of that privacy, especially when staff are not trained to recognize and report the signs of exploitation. And while high-profile events like next month’s Super Bowl can create a climate that traffickers exploit according to anti-trafficking organizations, the reality is that human trafficking is an everyday problem.

But experts say progress is being made, especially with help from hospitality industry leaders. As National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month comes to a close, many companies have made new commitments to combat human trafficking.

Last year Delta Air Lines launched a human trafficking training initiative for the airlines’ employees. Now 56,000 of those employees have been trained to watch for signs of human trafficking on flights or in airports around the world, and how to report concerns to the Delta operations center. The center then passes the information on, ensuring that there are multiple layers of checks and balances in the process.

And as part of their global commitment to safety and human rights, Marriott International launched its human trafficking awareness training program in January 2017. Marriott announced earlier this month that it has successfully trained 500,000 staff members on how to identify and respond to human trafficking in its hotels.

“By educating and empowering our global workforce to say something if they see something, we are not just standing up for the most vulnerable in society, we are also protecting associates and guests as well as living up to a core company value — serving our world,” Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International said in a statement.

Every employee in the hospitality industry can make a difference: the more hotel and travel companies become involved in training their staff to identify and respond to safety concerns, the harder it will be for crime to go unnoticed and unreported.

The STOPit mobile app is a simple, fast and powerful tool that empowers individuals to protect themselves and others. The platform also includes a robust incident management system, which enables administrators and management to get in front of issues, mitigate risk, and adhere to the always changing world of compliance.

Human Trafficking Knows No Boundaries, From Suburbia To The Inner City, The Problem is Growing but You Can Help

For many, the term “human trafficking” conjures images of ‘someone else’s’ neighborhood, where extreme poverty and violence are rampant and human rights are devalued, or ignored outright. But, as the FBI notes, the third-largest criminal activity in the world knows no boundaries and no demographic restrictions.

“Human trafficking is referred to as a crime that’s hidden in plain sight,” said Jamie Walton, president of the Wayne Foundation, an advocacy and crisis help organization for female victims of human trafficking that operates a nonprofit drop-in shelter in Florida. “It’s not just one type of human trafficking, and it’s not just happening in big cities. It’s happening everywhere.”

Especially in the digital age. The Internet has become a pipeline for predators to coerce, fraud and/or force young people into sex trades and labor arrangements that are tantamount to slavery. In America, it often starts when a vulnerable teen meets a ‘friend’ in a chat room. This ‘friend’ may come off charming and dangle something that’s financially out of reach – access to a nice house, fancy cars, drugs. Other times, they promise to fill a void in the youth’s life through something as simple as companionship. These online ‘relationships’ too often lead to the young person become victimized in real life.

Human Trafficking May Be Pervasive, But Public Awareness and Action Are Making A Difference

Federal data collected through a national reporting hotline offers valuable insight into the scope of the problem in the U.S. This data reveals:

  • The crisis is growing. In 2017, there were 8,524 reports of human trafficking. This number has increased each year since 2012, when there were 3,272 reports.
  • Victims are predominantly female (7,067) but include significant numbers of males (1,124) and gender minorities (80). Roughly 30 percent (2,495) were minors.
  • Sex trafficking was by far the most common type reported (6,081), followed by labor (1,249) and various other forms (1,194). The top venues for sex trafficking were illicit massage/spa businesses (714), hotel/motel-based (613) and online ads (519).

In fact, Walton says the majority of children are being trafficked while parents are away on vacation, away on business trips — even between getting out of school and parents getting home from an ordinary work day.

“Kidnapping is a real threat, but it’s not always this worst case scenario we need to pay attention to,” said Walton. “Too often, these children are being trafficked right in their own neighborhoods and they’re too scared and ashamed to ask for help. Local law enforcement is better trained and better equipped than ever to handle these cases, but they can be even more effective if we, ordinary citizens, are working with them to help identify threats and if we report them.”

Citizen Action Matters: Teaming Up With Law Enforcement to Stop Human Trafficking in Your Town

If you believe someone you know or have encountered could be a victim of human trafficking, it is critical that you alert the authorities right away.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides support for US citizens who are witnesses to — or victims of — human trafficking. The agency funds the National Human Trafficking Hotline, where people can reach out for help or report their suspicions about human trafficking activity 356 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Additionally, anonymous reporting options like the STOPit mobile app or WeTip both offer a safe, easy way to share information that could save lives and restore young people to their homes. Communities across the US are subscribing to these services as a way for citizens to report incidents to law enforcement. With both of these tools, the person reporting is also kept safe through guaranteed anonymity.

In more and more neighborhoods across the country, citizens, like those who brought STOPit to their Bloomfield, New Mexico community, are successfully working with law enforcement and public safety officers to stop crime and provide valuable assistance to help make victims whole.

“The best thing people can do is reach out — to report suspicious activity and protect someone you know, or to ask for help if you’re the victim,” Walton said. “We are working with our community law enforcement agencies every single day to more quickly identify these cases and take positive action to stop trafficking and get victims the help they need.”

For more information about how public safety officials and citizens in local communities are using anonymous reporting to increase safety and security in their neighborhoods, call now and speak with one of our experts in community safety.

Help for Victims of Trafficking

In light of the significant domestic threat, the US has proclaimed each January since 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the Department of Homeland Security sponsors its Blue Campaign, which offers training to law enforcement and key industries to increase detection of human trafficking, protect victims and bring suspected traffickers to justice.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides assistance to victims in crisis through safety planning, emotional support, and connections to local resources. Calls are confidential, toll-free and available 24/7.
CALL: (888) 373-7888
TEXT: HELP to BEFREE (233733)
EMAIL: help@humantraffickinghotline.org
ONLINE: www.humantraffickinghotline.org

Indicators of Human Trafficking

The following are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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