Worried About Your School Culture? How to Start a Bullying Prevention Program

By Caralee Adams, weareteachers.com

With research suggesting as many as one in three U.S. students are bullied at school, many educators are eager to find ways to make their buildings safe. Bullying affects not only the person being bullied but also the bully and bystanders, creating an environment in which it’s difficult to learn and succeed.

When setting up a bullying prevention program, experts says it’s important to have strong leadership from the top along with grassroots buy-in. Programs don’t have to cost a lot of money. It can take time and personnel to set up policies and reporting mechanisms, but a committed team can make progress and the effort is worth it.

Here are eight things to consider when embarking on a bullying prevention program:

1. Be comprehensive.

Bullying is a complex issue that emerges in homes, schools and communities as kids model adult behavior. Efforts to address it should be developmentally appropriate and include all invested parties. Jessica Toste, assistant professor in the college of education at the University of Texas in Austin, suggests asking for input from teachers from different grade levels and content areas, administrators, mental health professionals, students, other school staff members and perhaps a parent or community member. It may start with a big assembly, but the conversation needs to continue in the classroom with teachers, among student groups, and at home with families to build trusting relationships at all levels.

2. Accentuate the positive.

Rather than anti-bullying, frame the effort as one that promotes a positive school culture and acceptance. “The majority of teachers and administrators want their schools to be environments that are safe and positive and affirming for their students,” says Toste. In addition to academic skills, schools are increasingly seeing the value of promoting social-emotional learning – teaching kids how to regulate their emotions, demonstrate compassion, and accept people from different backgrounds and cultures. With that climate as the foundation, bullying can become less of an issue.

3. Commit to the long term.

Research shows that for bullying prevention efforts to work, schools should commit to programs for the long-term. “It’s something that needs to be in place regularly because these aren’t issue that we clean up and then everything is better. They are issues with humans interacting and kids learning,” says Toste. One example of an ongoing effort is the Reaching Out with Character and Kindness—or ROCK—program at Keller Independent School District in northern Texas, now entering its fourth year. ROCK is both proactive, with staff and student training, as well as reactive, with a process to report and investigate bullying incidents, says Laura Lockhart, coordinator of student services at Keller. The steering committee is a standing committee that recognizes the importance of committing to the long-term culture. “Bullying is not going away after doing one exciting assembly. It’s something that is deeper than that,” says Lockhart. “Reaching out with character and kindness is just part of who we want to be.”

4. Customize to fit your needs.

The committee at Keller worked together to come up with a mission and vision for ROCK. Students helped come up with the acronym and logo. “Whenever you get something out of a box, it doesn’t meet all of the unique needs of your community,” says Lockhart. “It was very important that it was designed with Keller ISD in mind … getting as many voices involved was crucial.”

5. Get buy-in from the cool kids.

Bullying is often linked to social status and is perpetrated by some of the most popular kids in school. Paul Coughlin, who speaks about bullying in schools and is the founder of Medford, Oregon-based nonprofit The Protectors, says any efforts to stem bullying need to include kids who are in positions of power and hold up a mirror to show the reality of what they are doing. “Many of these kids are aware they are being cruel, but many are not aware of the extent of their cruelty,” says Coughlin. “Unfortunately, they don’t have the necessary empathy and sympathy for the child that they are bullying.” Sometimes showing bullies a video of another bullying incident and explaining that what they are doing is similar can resonate, suggests Coughlin.

6. Make a splash.

Messages that promote a positive school culture need to be visible in classes, hallways and in the community. At Keller ISD, a special merchandise committee sells fun items, such as bracelets and T-shirts, with the ROCK logo to promote the brand and program, says Lockhart. The communications committee makes sure ROCK is talked about on Twitter and through newsletters. Experts add that free materials are available to distribute from websites such as StopBullying.gov.

7. Get a handle on the problem.

Consider surveys of students to truly evaluate the school climate and effectiveness of programs, suggests Toste of the University of Texas. Ask how students feel about safety and if they have someone in the building they feel they can go to if they are in need. Compare results before and after initiatives have been launched to fine-tune the work.

8. Set up a good reporting system.

Setting up a process to report and track bullying can be a powerful tool, experts suggest. To make sure the response to bullying is appropriate, Keller ISD set up an investigation process aimed at getting the entire story so the solution can be informed and keep everyone safe, says Lockhart. Schools also may want to consider an anonymous reporting system, suggest Coughlin. Some apps, such as STOPit, can make reporting easier and cut down on bullying.

As for the future, Coughlin predicts the bullying landscape will get worse with the lack of civility in broader society and with negative politics this campaign season. Still, it will get better in pockets of resistance and with support from concerned parents, he says. Schools that get it right and become known for taking the issue seriously can find it’s an opportunity to attract students, adds Coughlin.

“You can’t educate well with the presence of bullying,” says Coughlin. “Having the presence of bullying in the classroom and trying to teach is like having a gas leak. There are going to be a few kids who can do it, but they are going to be surviving, not thriving. They are just trying to make it through the day.”

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Curious why over 4,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Hideki Matsui, Nippon Foundation & STOPit Japan’s “Stand By You” Project

In partnership with a number of organizations including the Nippon Foundation, STOPit Solutions is proud to announce a new joint project out of our Japan office: Stand By You (#standbyyou).

STOPit Supporter, Hideki Matsui, alongside STOPit Japan’s CEO, Daizaburo Taniyama, are leading the Stand By You project which focuses on eradicating bullying in Japan through messages of well-known athletes, creators, and artists.

STOPit Solutions Hideki Matsui STOPit Solutions Hideki Matsui Daizaburo Taniyama
(L to R) STOPit Japan's CEO, Daizaburo Taniyama, with Hideki Matsui
In the first Stand By You video release, Shingo Kunieda, Yukari Kinga, Masami Ihara, Fumino Sugiyama, and Tomoaki Imai join the fight against bullying.

The Stand By You project will be releasing content over the next few months and include messages from other globally influential people via YouTube here.

Hideki Matsui STOPit Solutions Stand by you
On set with Hideki Matsui; Kiara Lizuka behind the camera

In 2018, Hideki joined longtime STOPit supporter, Derek Jeter (Turn2Foundation), in publicly advocating STOPit and its mission of empowering people to speak up through anonymous reporting.

Now it is time for me to support others who are having a hard time. STOPit can provide the means through which to help those suffering because of bullying. That’s why I support STOPit. We cannot forgive bullying. Be brave and please take a stand against bullying along with me,” Hideki said in a previous statement.

Derek Jeter Hideki Matsui STOPit Solutions

 The official press release out of STOPit Japan can be found here. Any media inquiries can be directed to marketing@stopitsolutions.com. 

Conversations With STOPit Solutions: Interview with Maurine Molak of David’s Legacy Foundation

“You’re a tattle tail.”

The term brings back memories from childhood. Arguments with friends. Maybe siblings. But do you remember all of the times you were called a tattle tail when you weren’t actually being one? Sometimes, speaking up about inappropriate things going on is the unpopular vote amongst your peers; however, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t still be said. In fact, quite the opposite. 

Empowering others to speak up is something that today’s guest devotes much of her time and energy to. In our most recent podcast, we are joined by Maurine Molak, the founder of David’s Legacy Foundation. David’s Legacy Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending cyber-assisted bullying, as well as other forms of bullying.

During our interview, Maurine speaks about how David’s Legacy Foundation is affecting education, legislation, and legal action as well as what it means to be a “Upstander.”

Listen above and be sure to email us if you or someone you know would like to be featured on our podcast.

For more information on David’s Legacy Foundation, please visit: www.davidslegacy.org
www.facebook.com/davidslegacyfoundation/
twitter.com/Davids_Legacy

All Aboard: Why HR Managers Should Be Using the Momentum of #MeToo to Build Better Corporate Culture and Realize Big Savings

Two years since the launch of the #MeToo movement, awareness about the prevalance of sexual harassment — and its impact — has never been higher. We’ve witnessed massive women’s marches in the nation’s cities (and around the world), signaling an end to the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ history of silence and shame about sexual harassment incidents. As more and more people feel safe and supported to speak up, we’ve seen allegations against even the most high-profile figures in politics, Hollywood and every other corner of American life, encouraging even more conversation and frank talk about the effects of harassment on our emotional and mental health — and in our careers. 

More and more, companies that take pride in delivering superior goods and services are the same ones being recognized as ‘best-places-to-work’, creating the positive work culture that attracts, supports and retains the best employees. For these pace-setters, positive work culture isn’t simply a branding strategy — it’s a moral imperative that drives every major business decision. These are the companies that are taking a proactive approach to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, enacting zero tolerance policies for misconduct, more thorough response plans to handle complaints, and mandatory training and education programs for employees.

With HR professionals and managers taking all of these great steps, which of the statements below would you guess is true of sexual and sex-based harassment in today’s workplace?

  1. A)     Incidents are on the wane
  2. B)     Allegations have reached record levels

Statistics say the answer is B, and yet both may be true. An analysis of a decade’s worth of data by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that the number of charges filed with the agency alleging sex-based harassment reached the 13,000 mark for the first time in 2018. At the same time, overall charges related to discrimination were down. The rise in charges doesn’t appear to be a result of people acting worse than ever, but of people standing up for themselves more confidently than ever.

Download the infographic to learn how to empower your employees post #MeToo.

Reacting to the data in The Washington Post, EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic credited the higher numbers to the #MeToo movement.

“Quite honestly, as we’ve been putting this all together over the last week, I wasn’t sure what the numbers were going to show,” she said. “I suspected there was an increase, but I think it absolutely reflects a greater willingness to report it and speak up about it.”

Meanwhile, the monetary benefits paid out to victims in EEOC cases reached a record $56.6 million in 2018. It was a 22% increase from the prior year and the first time the number ever eclipsed the $50 million mark.

The Price to Pay

The math is clear: A rise in employees standing up to harassment plus ballooning litigation costs equals trouble no business can afford. The costs of these issues in the workplace – from settlements, to reputational damage, to employee recruiting – are a threat even for thriving businesses. Those that spend time and money on preventative measures are making a worthy investment.

Consider the following costs, according to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Center for Hospitality Research:

Reputational: There are no secrets in the digital age. Thanks to job rating sites and old-fashioned word of mouth in the industry, the news that your office is not a respectful place to work will travel and chase away top young talent. The direct and indirect costs of a poor record on harassment has been tabbed at $180,000 per year for a business that grosses $1 million annually.

Legal: Payouts and legal costs for sexual harassment average between $75,000 and $125,000 per lawsuit.

Turnover: The cost of replacing an employee who leaves because of harassment is nearly $6,000. Among the expenses included in that figure are over $3,000 in lost productivity with the position empty; $1,170 for time and resources spent in recruiting replacements; and over $800 for orientation and training.

Productivity: The price of an employee not leaving can be steep too. Those who stick out the abuse will see their work suffer from the stress and depression, running an estimated $22,500 per employee in lost productivity.

Anonymous Reporting

Even with the upswing in upstanders, many victims will always be hesitant to come forward. A recent study found that nearly three-quarters of women and 81% of men who are sexually harassed don’t report it.

Anonymous reporting options open the lines of communication between victims or their concerned colleagues and administrators who are in a position to help. STOPit Solutions’ easy-to-use mobile app allows employees to share information through an interface that looks and feels like a text message conversation and offers total anonymity for those disclosing information. The arrangement gives victims a chance to grow comfortable sharing their stories with administrators, and supplies the employer with a written record of allegations for its investigation.

Whether you set up an email account dedicated to sharing complaints or implement a sophisticated, integrated solution like STOPit, anonymous reporting can eradicate abusive behavior before it takes root and causes more harm. It protects your positive office culture and gives your company a better chance to continue attracting — and retaining — top talent. Contact STOPit today to learn how its tools can ensure sexual harassment won’t cost your business.

How to Boost Morale and Your Company Productivity: Get Employees Out of the Office

Edison said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” In the office, when it comes to your best and brightest workers, watch out for stagnation and exasperation.

In a Deloitte poll of American workers, 77% reported experiencing burnout at their current job and 91% said having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration negatively impacts the quality of their work. It was a prevalent feeling during the belt-tightening of the Great Recession, as companies shed workers and placed the burden on their smaller staffs to pick up the slack. As a result, workers solely had time for the essential work required to keep their businesses afloat.

Nowadays, employers can put their staffs in that position at their own peril. A far-improved job market means employees have plenty of other options and won’t hesitate to take advantage of them. This is especially true of young talent. Per the Deloitte survey, nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out, a rate higher than any other age group.

STOPit Solutions partners with industry leaders to help improve and protect a company’s best work culture. Learn more.

According to a Gallup poll of American workers, about 30% typically say they feel “engaged” in their jobs. The data shows a strong correlation between engaged workers – the ones who care most about whether the company thrives or fails — and the availability of professional development opportunities through their jobs.

Do These Things to Keep Your Best Employees:

A common thread between the leading workers in any industry is that they want to be the best. Don’t confine these high achievers to their cubicles. Help them reach the next level by getting them out of the office into environments that teach them something new and get their creative juices flowing. Here are five ways you can do it.

Conferences: The panel talks at trade shows and industry conferences offer a classroom-like experience that workers seldom see once their college days are over. Encourage them to attend these sessions to learn how to stay ahead of the curve in their industries. Conferences are also an outstanding networking opportunity. You may be a part of the best staff in the business, but there’s always something to learn from peers with different perspectives.

Skills Trainings: This is an item companies often treat as an unnecessary perk that they can’t afford to offer. In reality, they can’t afford not to. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. In an age when wildly popular technologies go extinct a year later, it is critical to keep workers at the fore of trends impacting how they do their jobs.

Tabling at Industry Events: There is perhaps no better way to learn about your company and feel more engaged than to talk about it nonstop for a few days. The answers you don’t know will force you to ask your co-workers questions and sharpen the blade for the next time you need to give a presentation or a sales pitch. The conversations you have will reveal invaluable insights on what your customers think about your services.

Work in Other Offices: See how the other half lives. If your company has offices in other places, give your employees opportunities to work in one of them every once in a while. Spending time with their colleagues is great for building company culture and working relationships that can yield greater success in the future.

Social Events: You’ll never break down the barriers between management and staff if they don’t get to know each other. Social events like happy hours or coffee klatches between members of different divisions give workers the chance to learn about each other’s passions and talents. These conversations may inform you that there’s no need to post an ad for external candidates when an opportunity for advancement opens up. There’s nothing quite as reinvigorating for an employee than seeing their work recognized with a promotion.

 

STOPit Solutions is working with industry leaders across the US to help support safe, healthy workplace cultures and encourage positive employee engagement. 

Call us today, and let’s talk about how we can help you meet your goals for building your best workplace culture.

Summer Camps And Using Tech To Enable The Best Experience

It’s Summer Camp Season.

It’s the time of year when kids get fired up for corkscrew water slides, flag football games, and field trips to the aquarium. All the excitement will undoubtedly bring a smile to their faces, but the elaborate bells and whistles are not only what determines whether kids have fun at summer camp or not.

It’s all about the friendships. When children establish a group of friends who make them happy, all of the activities are a blast. They can’t wait to step on the bus in the morning and hate to leave when camp is over.

No zipline in the world is going to excite a child if they are facing a problem with the other campers, though.

Parents hope that their kids will have fun, while also learning integral life skills—how to be more resilient, more kind, and more fulfilled young adults. The best camp experiences offer infinite opportunities for children to build character whether that be through working collaboratively in a team sport or resolving differences with respect and understanding.

The camps that succeed in providing these rich experiences are beloved by kids and parents alike.

Summer Is Even Better When Tech Helps Protect A Camp’s Core Identity

While we all hope for the perfect summer for every child, we know that issues of bullying, depression, and harassment can and do threaten to mar an otherwise great experience. Every camp should have a plan to address these problems and train their staff members to handle them quickly and thoroughly.

Technology can help accomplish those goals by protecting the camp’s identity and strengthening the dialogue between patrons and staff members. Since kids (and let’s face it, adults, too) are inseparable from their mobile devices, apps are a great way to send messages and share information about issues that arise during camp.

If a kid is picking on or using inappropriate language toward another camper, respond by halting the behavior immediately and provide everyone with information about the realities of bullying. Show campers how they can be an upstander in situations like these. STOPit Solutions offers partners a robust social emotional learning library (SEL) with carefully curated, evidence-based content on a spectrum of issues that affect the health and wellbeing of children and young adults from healthy body-image, to bullying, anxiety, cyber-stalking, and depression.

Two-way messaging is also a great way for camp counselors, kids, and administrators to stay in touch during the incident. There are several good apps that facilitate this kind of successful communication. STOPit Solutions is among the growing crop of easy, intuitive, and effective apps for fostering conversations between young people and grown-ups. Its broadcast feature makes it possible to send messages to every camper who has downloaded the app, which can be useful in times when an administrator would like to address an emerging problem or incident.

And what about those anonymous reporting apps we read about? Do camps need one?

Yes. Medium recently reported, as much as 60 percent of bullying in camps goes unreported. The need is real.

An anonymous reporting option is an effective way to deter problems before they take root. It gives kids a chance to help when they spot a friend in trouble, without the fear of retaliation or being labeled a “tattletale.” Anonymous reporting also gives camp administrators the ability to report incidents that counselors might miss.

When kids reach out through STOPit, administrators can respond with follow-up questions and let the dialogue flow, just like young people do with their friends in a thread of texts.

Leave with more than just fond memories

Besides fond memories of bonfires and canoe rides, thirty years from now camp directors want their kids-turned-parents, aunts, and uncles to be able to remember more than the perfectly toasted marshmallows as why they loved their summer camp experiences. With any luck, the real-life lessons learned at camp in the midst of making those memories will be the reason parents send their own kids.

Call STOPit Solutions today to find out how anonymous reporting can help build those kinds of family traditions and make every child’s memory of camp a happy one.

For more information about bullying prevention in summer camps, visit this resource page from the American Camp Association.

Top 3 Ways to Ensure a Positive Work Culture

“I love my job.” It’s something everyone wishes they could say, yet many truthfully cannot.

What does it take to get someone there? Great compensation certainly helps, but money can’t (entirely) buy that love.

A Deloitte survey of 1,000 American workers and 300 executives found that of those who felt their company had a distinct work culture, 84% said they were happy at work and 86% felt valued by their company. A positive work culture fuels a happy, productive staff and vice versa.

Job candidates today want to work in places with a great culture and have the means to find them. There is no shortage of websites that provide a platform for employees to share insights on what it’s really like behind closed doors. If the staff is miserable, word will get out.

A positive work culture is essential to attracting and retaining the best talent, and ultimately maintaining a viable business. Here are a handful of actions your company can take to build a thriving office culture:

Inspire

Each year, Indeed.com analyzes all of its job reviews for Fortune 500 companies and tabulates a ranking of the best places to work. It’s no coincidence that the top 10 consists of many of the same companies every time.

When you skim the summaries of places like Facebook, Apple, Google, Disney, and Nike, you’ll find a common thread–all have a top-down commitment to being the absolute best in their space. Their work cultures revolve around innovation and excellence, and employees who enjoy being innovative and excellent.

This should be the goal of any business, large or small. If you run a local carpet installation business, you want a staff that aims to be the best in your field. The crew should take pride in being told what a difference they’ve made; you can encourage them to take before/after shots of every job to remind them of their impact. They should also care if they get called back to a job site to fix a section that turned out shabby.

INTO ACTION: If your company doesn’t have a mission statement, take the time to write one that articulates a positive vision for your work. Keep it simple and make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them.

Understand

Another interesting finding in the Deloitte study was a gap in perception between executives and employees when it comes to work culture. On many counts, leadership held the belief that things were going great when the rank-and-file had a less rosy view of their daily experience.

It’s a common symptom of what ails the hierarchical corporate chain-of-command. Ordinary workers are discouraged-and sometimes even prohibited-from approaching top brass, so they only know what they’re told by their department heads.

When Deloitte asked whether senior leadership regularly communicates the company’s core values and beliefs, the executives were 16% more inclined to say yes than their employees. In addition, 65% of executives felt leadership regularly speaks about the company’s culture, vs. 51% of employees; 12% more executives than employees were inclined to say they could clearly explain their company’s culture to others.

It’s a classic case of disconnect between the C-suite and the cubicles. A great work culture depends on finding ways to break down the barriers between upper management and staff. You’ll never understand each other if you never talk to each other.

INTO ACTION: Senior leadership can cut out the middle managers and open the lines of communication directly to staff by holding monthly coffee chats. Rotate the departments each time so the managers can meet more people and get a broader lay of the land.

Respect

Again, while nothing quite says “I love you” like a substantial raise, there are other ways to foster a company culture that values its employees. You can celebrate individuals’ successes as a team. You can offer a path for advancement for those who are making the company better.

Perhaps most of all, you can lay down an unbreakable demand that everyone treat their co-workers with respect and help to inspire a speak up culture (our real-time employee engagement app can help!). No tolerance exists for those who would bully or harass co-workers who they view as different or lesser than themselves. In the era of #MeToo, that kind of toxicity prompts the death of a company’s positive office culture and places it on the path to financial peril.

If you want your workers to love their job, make this part easy for them. Take steps every day to inspire, understand, and respect them.

INTO ACTION: Feature an employee each week or month using the company’s social media, intranet, or other communications platforms. Consider a fun format, like a written or video Q&A, that gives readers a sense of the subjects’ work and who they are as people.

Vacation Ready? Here’s Your STOPit Summer Checklist!

Now that summer is here, it’s time to make sure that your STOPit Solutions system is ready for when you or your team will be on vacation. Here is a quick checklist for you to use before you hit the beach and enjoy some sunshine:

1. Close out completed incidents

Before you leave for vacation, close out any completed incidents. Think of it as cleaning out your “inbox” so that when you get back from time off you can start fresh.

2. Pull your end of year reports

Before you head out the door for the beach, make sure to pull some end of year statistics with reports. These will help you analyze any trends in your organization that you may want to work on when you’re back. Not sure how to easily export? Contact us.

3. Turn your Vacation Scheduler on or off

If you don’t have 24/7 monitoring set up (we can help you do this!), you may want to take a look at your vacation scheduler to let your students know if you will be away.

4. Customize your home screen message for the summertime

One of our most popular features is the ability to customize your home screen on the STOPit App. There is no limit to how many times you can do this so we urge you to get creative. Here are some ideas: 

  • “Have a Safe Summer!”
  • “Summer is here! We still want to hear from you!”
  • “Enjoy the sunshine and stay in touch with us!”

Have you listened to our podcast yet? Check it out here!

Interested in being a guest? Send an email to marketing@stopitsolutions.com.

Is Your Phone Summer Ready? It’s Time to Start Summer Hours for Your Mobile Device!

For millions of American workers, Memorial Day weekend not only ushered in the unofficial start of summer, but the official start of summer hours. According to the Washington Post, around 40 percent of American companies now offer some version of the summer Friday perk to keep power charges low and recharge workers’ mental batteries.

So how about setting summer hours for our mobile device use? If you’re like most Americans, you can use it.

A mounting body of research shows cell phone addiction is a pervasive problem that’s deteriorating our health in numerous ways – anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, even wrist and hand pains. We know we’re on them too much, yet we do it anyway.

Dr. Jenna Meyerberg, PhD, LPC, an authority on youth social and emotional development, has written extensively about how living in an age of instant communication and nearly unlimited access to information is having a significant, negative impact on people. STOPit Solutions recently had an opportunity to sit with Dr. Meyerberg and talk about electronics addiction on the STOPit Solutions Podcast. In addition to providing helpful suggestions for encouraging everyone to unplug and being more present in real life (aka “IRL”), she shares  evidence-based research proving that people who are more disciplined in their online habits have higher self-esteem and confidence than their tech-obsessed peers.

These statistics and trends may feel oppressive, but the fact is that we DO have control over our own behavior and there’s no better time for a break than now. The beaches are open, the sun is out until 8:30 at night, and the warm breeze smells like flowers, the neighbor’s barbecue and freshly cut grass. Go out and enjoy it! Read on for a few simple ways we can institute summer hours for our phones and tablets.

 

Make a Plan and Apply It

A good way to start is to diagnose the ailment and set your cure. Both Apple and Google now have apps (Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing, respectively) that can tell you how much time you’re spending on your devices, with breakdowns by specific apps and categories.

Those who haven’t checked their stats before may be in for a shock. Studies have suggested that Americans check their phones once every 12 minutes – or roughly 80 times per day – and spend about four hours on them daily. Thankfully, Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing can be programmed to enforce time limits for your apps and lock them if you’ve crossed the line.

Take a look at your averages, come up with realistic goals for curbing your time and use these apps to hold you to them. Can you cut your app use by an hour per day? Two? Take the challenge!

No-Go Times

The dinner table used to be a family’s impenetrable bubble from the world. Kids told mom and dad what they learned in school and there were no interruptions allowed from the TV or ringing phones. Now everyone at the table is glued to Twitter and video games while they chew.

We can all make a meaningful dent in our gadget use by declaring them off-limits at times when good manners dictate they should be off anyway. Set a rule that they’re not allowed in the same room as the dinner table. Apply the same standards to times that are meant to be about family and friends – summer vacation trips, graduation parties, the annual golf outing. You can never get those moments back.

And if you’re out for a meal with friends, encourage everyone to pile them in the center of the table with the sound off. First person to give in picks up the check!

Be a Cellular Role Model

If you want to make summer hours stick with your kids, do as you say and say as you do. Like just about anything with parenting, it’s easy to dictate a bunch of rules and quite another thing to enforce them. If you lecture your kids about a bad behavior and then model it in front of them, they won’t take the lesson seriously or follow it.

If you lay down a “no Kindle before summer camp” rule, don’t let them see you glued to Facebook over your morning coffee. Show them it can be done.

Think about ways you can make summer hours a family affair. If everyone in your house is a part of the challenge, you can hold each other accountable and set up fun prizes for those who reach their goals.

And who knows — once summer hours are over and schools are back in session, maybe some of these healthy, new habits will stick. To paraphrase an old saying, “An app less per day keeps the doctor away.”

Into Action

Download our tip sheet and hang it on the refrigerator and home and work — or pass it along to a friend who you can recruit to take the challenge with you.

For extra satisfaction, write down what you did during the hour (or two) you reclaimed each day. Did you get an extra hour of sleep? Take the time to cook your favorite meal? Walk the dog on a new trail or have that family movie night you keep talking about? Let’s work together to live healthier, happier lives — right now! 

A Look At The Year Ahead: 2019 Bullying Statistics & Trends

By Neil Hooper, COO of STOPit Solutions

The most recent year once again experienced not only some horrible acts of school shooting, but some emerging jarring and tragic statistics on concerning youth behavior.  Bullying and the effects of bullying continues to grow, and we need to remember not to sideline this arguably even more brutal topic while we also address student and school safety.

Finding ways to address bullying is part of our company’s DNA. STOPit Solutions was founded in 2013 on a seemingly normal day after a story on the radio aired and turned out to change our lives forever.  The radio story reminded us of the tragic story of Amanda Todd, a victim of aggressive cyberbullying.  She suffered aggressive online predation and the cruel and relentless taunting by her peers led to her taking her own life at just 15 years old. Amanda had shared her story via flashcards in a YouTube video that caught the world’s attention. We believed the key to helping youth like Amanda and others is to empower them with technology to ask for help.

While school safety remains in the forefront of our minds and tools like STOPit encourages reporting of known issues, the ongoing social and emotional impact of bullying of people like Amanda and its effects are an every day challenge that we are driven to help our school partners address.

In fact, according to numerous studies, including one recently from author Gary Ladd, a psychology researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe, not only does bullying at school affect students’ emotional and social lives, it also directly affects their schoolwork and engagement in the classroom.  

“Nationally, there have been high-profile suicides and school districts trying to implement bully prevention programs,” Ladd commented. “Teachers, parents, school administrators and anyone who knows a school-age kid should understand these effects.”

Ladd’s team found that children who are most chronically bullied are the most likely to have low school engagement, academic self-perception and academic achievement, particularly in math.

According to a study from UCLA, every day more than 280,000 students are physically attacked in schools and one out of ten students who drop out of school, mentions repeated bullying as a factor. Jaana Juvonen, a professor of psychology at UCLA and lead author of the study, states that bullying and low academic achievement are frequently linked. Juvonen is quoted saying, “Students who are repeatedly bullied receive poorer grades and participate less in class discussions. […] Students may get mislabeled as low achievers because they do not want to speak up in class for fear of getting bullied.” Juvenon also remarked that, “Once students get labeled as ‘dumb,’ they get picked on and perform even worse.”

Additionally, in a study from researchers at the University at Buffalo, teens that are victims of cyberbullying are likely to suffer from poor sleep which contributes depression.

The stats around the effects of bullying are staggering and continuous, which is why if we want to keep our kids in school and give them the best possible chance of succeeding, as well as have our students achieve higher academic ratings, reducing and eliminating bullying is a leading contributing factor. 

Beyond affecting grades, the social and emotional learning (SEL) and self-harm statistics generally linked to bullying are hard to ignore.  The most recent data from the CDC confirms a 70% – 77% increase in teen suicide rates over the past 10 years, and the increase is seen in virtually every state in the nation.

Additional data from the CDC confirm that for ages 10-14 and ages 15-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the nation (ahead of homicide or health related issues).

The issues span gender, race and socioeconomics, and virtually every statistic related to this topic have been rising year over year over the past 10 years.

Bullyingstatistics.org tells us that:

  • For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.
  • Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it

Youth suicide is an incredibly difficult event for families, schools, and entire communities. The fact remains in study after study: Being the victim of bullying can deeply affect a young person and the entire community around them and it’s time to put local programs in place to help our schools with their specific issues. From locally implemented anonymous reporting to help youth speak up, through integrated SEL content to assist issues as they arise, we look forward to a day when our schools have the tools they need to help our children with these new threats to their wellbeing.

The STOPit Solutions premise is simple: Bullying isn’t done in private. Bullies want attention and their action are witnessed. It is seen and heard, and we need to empower bystanders to become upstanders. We all know the concerns surrounding the stigma of speaking up, so in order to get the conversation started we empower anonymous reporting—and it works. In STOPit schools that consistently use the platform to get ahead of issues before they spiral out of control, the school culture becomes a more inclusive and protective community.  Stopping bullying can begin with the help of fellow students, and using STOPit is an integral component of that strategy.

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