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

New Year Brings New Resolve for Students Ready to Report Bullying

STOPit school administrators, have you seen a few more reports from your students right after the holidays? There is a reason associated with that and here we will share our findings and research.

Unlike what schools typically see a few weeks after opening day — when bullies zero in on their targets and start getting aggressive — many of reports can be taken as a positive sign. Research show that what you’ll see shortly after winter break are students getting long-festering troubles off their chests so they can enjoy a peaceful, productive second half of the school year.

Why? As it turns out, there’s no place like home for the holidays.

“When the students go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, they have more chances to speak with their older siblings or other trusted family members,” STOPit Solutions Chief Revenue Officer Neil Hooper said. “Over these breaks, students spend extended time with their family, and for college students in particular, it may have been a number of weeks since they last visited home. They often get the guidance they need over these breaks to understand that what they have been experiencing is not acceptable and they need to report what they have seen.”

Emboldened by these discussions, the students take steps necessary to make things right – talking to teachers, acting as upstanders and yes, anonymously reporting issues. According to Hooper, a review of data submitted to STOPit’s 3,000 school customers shows a brief but very valuable statistical increase in reports in the weeks following the long winter break vs. the average for the year.

“We certainly know that there is stress around the holidays, and that not everyone’s holiday break is positive,” Hooper said. “This family stress can be a source of reporting. However, the largest impact of a holiday break is positive.”

STOPit helps ensure that the act of reporting does not add to students’ stress. The mobile app was designed to feel as familiar as possible to today’s generation of digital natives, functioning and appearing just like a text message. Users can count on the knowledge that their conversations will remain completely anonymous, until or unless they choose to identify themselves. For schools that don’t have the staff available to respond to STOPit reports on holidays and other off hours, STOPit also offers a 24/7 monitoring service.

Those assigned to administer STOPit in their schools can return from the break prepared to take advantage of the windfall of information and act to address issues that were kept out of their view.

“School administrators should not only be ready for their return, but this opportunity should be cherished,” Hooper said. “Encouraging students to open up and let their parents be parents, and encouraging students to reflect with their family is an important process. Let’s not forget that helping students is not just for the schools, but for the parents as well.”

This post-holiday surge is just one example of the important, nationwide trends being gleaned through data collected by STOPit schools across the country. In addition to these universal insights, individual schools can also benefit from analytics particular to their own, unique community. Using the STOPit Admin tool, schools can easily identify trends impacting their own students, allowing counselors and educators to prepare and respond to potential opportunities and challenges in the way best suited for their special school community. And with a suite of carefully curated social-emotional learning content now available through the mobile app, schools can easily make positive content available to their students to help them build resiliency on topics most impactful to that student community.

Call us to learn more about how educators are using the insights from STOPit analytics to provide better protection for their students.

The Scars We Can’t See: Neuroscience Proves That Adolescents Are Most At-Risk For Long-Term Consequences of Bullying & Abuse

Even those of us who don’t remember typewriter ribbon and mobile phone deals that included free night and weekend minutes can probably summon up a mental picture of the ineffable James Dean, astride his motorcycle like he owns the world in Rebel Without a Cause, or maybe even hum a few bars of Don’t You Forget About Me from The Breakfast Club. The focus in both these iconic productions rests squarely on the fearless, oftentimes reckless and always passionate energy of their adolescent heroes.

Teenagers and their tumultuous coming-of-age stories are represented throughout history in all art forms all over the world, and for good reason — adolescence is universally recognized as a time during human development of great promise…as well as great consequence.

Few people understand that dichotomy as well as Dr. Jennifer Fraser, PhD, an expert in applied neuroscience who is changing the way bullying is perceived, understood, and treated. Neuroscience is proving the dramatic, and deeply troubling, psychopathological effects that bullying has on the developing brain, and Fraser is leveraging this growing body of research to speak directly to the adults who she feels are most able to do something positive to stop the bullying epidemic and help young brains heal.

“My work focuses on adults, on training adults who are in frequent contact with or who work with adolescents — educators, coaches, medical staff, parents, law enforcement,” she said recently in an interview with STOPit’s CRO, Neil Hooper. “They all need to know that their words and behavior have a tremendous emotional impact on these radically developing brains — even more than with younger children,” she said.

All In The Head: The Real Damage Of Humiliating, Abusive Words On The Adolescent Brain

The teenage years are a time of intensive growth in brain development — paralleling that of the toddler years– and data suggests that the experience of chronic victimization during adolescence induces psychopathological deviations from normal brain development. In other words, a physical change to the brain — literally forming scar tissue, causing shrinkages and other deformities that could change the way these future adults will learn, think and behave. “The fact is that chronic bullying, or worse emotional abuse done by adult, leaves an indelible imprint because it affects hormones, reduces connectivity in the brain, and sabotages new neurons’ growth,” said Fraser.

Neurological studies have found that persistent bullying in high school is not only emotionally traumatizing, it also causes real and lasting damage to the developing young brain. In fact, MRIs show that the brain’s pain response to exclusion and taunting is remarkably similar to its reaction when the body is physically hit or burned.

recent European study that was published in Molecular Psychiatry on teenage brain development and mental health followed 682 young people between the ages of 14 and 19, and tallied 36 in total who reported experiencing chronic bullying during these years. When the researchers compared the excessively bullied participants to those who had experienced less intense bullying, certain sections of the brains of the bullied participants appeared to have actually shrunk in size – a change similar to adults who have experienced severe early life physical stress, such as child abuse.

“I try to explain to them (adults) how we’ve created this bullying culture with our children; in sports, in the performing arts; in academic competition, by modeling our own, shaming, aggressive behavior, and then we turn around in school assemblies and TV spots and tell them not to do it. That’s obviously not working. Too often, these changes – these scars – are programming their brains to perpetuate the abuse and trauma they experienced on others.”

In one of many examples Fraser cites to prove her point, the world renowned educator points to the case of Rutgers University basketball coach, Mike Rice, fired for relentlessly bullying kids on his team; hurling insults, questioning their loyalty, sexual identity and abilities. One student in particular repeatedly felt the lash of the coach’s taunts, laced with homophobic slurs and rants, but it took repeated reports by Assistant Coach, Eric Murdock and finally his handing over of a video of Rice’s abuse to ESPN in order to protect the student-athletes.

“This bullying culture is so deeply embedded in our society, even the most obvious examples are too often shrugged off as part of growing up, perverse rites of passage necessary to “toughen up” children for successful adulthood and motivate them to push past pain to “be their best”. This awful behavior is normalised and dismissed — but it’s not normal behavior,” she said emphatically. “None of this makes any child stronger, smarter, more artistic, or more athletic. It just harms his or her brain, and it might be permanent,” Fraser said.

Leveraging Neuroscience and Social-Emotional Learning to Change Culture

But as with every challenge, there are solutions — if we are willing to find them and determined enough to use them.

In her previous book, Teaching Bullies and her forthcoming book “The Bullied Brain: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Brain Scars and How To Heal Them”, Fraser presents a realistic approach to reversing the epidemic of bullying. In this book and in her work as an educator and consultant, Fraser emphasises the importance of SEL, or social-emotional learning, as well as the need to flip-the-script when it comes to reporting bullying and harassment.

“Social-emotional learning — including content and activities that emphasize cooperation, strengths-based motivation and empathy — is one of our greatest, underutilized tools in remaking our culture,” she said. “If we adults make SEL ubiquitous in all disciplines, activities and at all ages — we’ll be pushing a new norm and make bullying a marginalized behavior.”

One component of social-emotional learning is practicing courage — including the courage to speak up for someone in trouble. Fraser believes that every organization should provide an anonymous reporting tool to everyone in that organization, and that there is as much value in a manager or staff member’s ability to report bullying and harassment as there is in empowering a victim to reach out for help.

“In the example of Mike Rice at Rutgers,” Fraser said, “there were several adults – professionals who were mid-level managers or staff who were witnesses and wanted to speak out, but they felt powerless or afraid to go public with their concerns. Tools like the STOPit Solutions reporting app could have made all the difference in this case by empowering both the victims and the adult bystanders to speak up and demand early intervention and resolution.”

Fraser and like-minded colleagues at STOPit are forming strategic partnerships across the globe to bring together the research, tools and leadership critical to understanding the problems and to implementing solutions. Fraser is helping STOPit build a robust library of SEL content, grounded in positive psychology and neuroscience, that organizations can choose to share with their communities — content that directly addresses their own, distinct needs and concerns. STOPit is helping Fraser and others share stories showing how those who report bullying and harassment are heroes — not snitches — and demonstrate how upstanders save lives and protect what’s best in an organization’s culture.

In Fraser’s newly completed online course End Bullying and Abuse Academy, she foregrounds the STOPit reporting app as one of her eight “Rs.” Her eight courses analyze how organizations fail to use SEL and reporting as an early-warning system to keep administrators aware of whether their culture is healthy or showing signs of toxicity. Fraser’s courses teach that at the heart of a healthy system is SEL knowledge, neuroscientific insights and an effective reporting system.

“We have the brain power to make a paradigm shift from the passive acceptance of bullying and abuse to actively practicing empathy and compassion,” said Fraser. “Your corporation, business, schools or sports organization will be more successful once you make that shift. That’s not opinion. It’s grounded in extensive neuroscientific research.”

Call STOPit now to learn more about how communities and school districts are using the innovative app to build resiliency, safety, and deliver mental health first aid to individuals and organizations around the world.

How Workplaces Are Integrating Data and Anonymous Reporting To Satisfy Compliance Requirements and Improve Company Culture

Time will tell, but employers may look back at 2018 as the year we finally got honest about the impact of harassment and intimidation in the workplace. Using social media as a megaphone, professionals from Hollywood to Main Street proclaimed “no more” to misconduct that had long been pervasive in every industry and nearly every office building. Norms for what’s considered acceptable behavior have evolved, and employers are looking forward to take better advantage of tools that educate their staff, empowering them to address issues before they become problems. Companies that don’t are taking unnecessary risks.

And while there’s been no shortage of headlines about events of the past in the #MeToo era, Roger Duffield, President of in2vate, believes the vast majority of executives want to put protections in place for the future of their corporations. They just don’t always know how.

“I don’t think the right information is getting to decision makers,” Duffield said. “They’re ready to take positive steps, but they don’t have the right data. If they can see what they need to do, they’ll do it.”

The Solution: Introducing Enterprise Risk Technology

More and more business leaders are taking those positive steps with the deployment of enterprise risk technology, software that can help companies assess their current culture, identify areas for improvement, gather information from employees with anonymous reporting apps like STOPit, implement best practices for conforming with regulations, and train employees on timely topics.

In2vate was one of the first providers of valuable services and it’s leveraged its experience and integration with STOPit to create a customizable and scalable software package that is particularly effective for businesses with distinct corporate cultures.

“Companies need a risk-management solution that over-delivers on their need for information and plugs them into easy to implement, cost effective solutions,” said Duffield.

The effectiveness of enterprise risk technology was proven recently when an in2vate customer, an insurer with over 200 government clients in its pool, needed to perform an audit on all of their policies and handbooks and identify documents and forms in need of an immediate update as well as urgent training needs.

In2vate developed a 30-question survey and a simple interface that allowed the agencies to upload their documents and collect specific, actionable information for each organization. Within 45 days, they had nearly 90 percent participation — highly unusual for large-scale assessment projects — and all the information necessary to match every one of the participants with tools and resources they needed to accomplish all their compliance and organizational management goals.

“We were amazed at the level of disclosure that the clients provided,” Duffield said. “It would have taken them years to collect the data with any other method.”

Powering Up Data with Anonymous Reporting

When it comes to data collection for risk assessment, companies are recommending anonymous reporting as another opportunity to collect valuable data.

Now offering an anonymous reporting option to employees, organizations and partners like In2vate are taking proactive steps to ensure better compliance with legal obligations and, as importantly, encouraging employees to feel safe and empowered to report malfeasance and harassment. Anonymous reporting services are highly effective for getting real-time, first-person information about workplace warning signals as well as threats, helping managers identify and address workplace problems before they take root and ultimately preserving an office’s positive atmosphere.

STOPit Solutions is in2vate’s provider of choice in anonymous reporting and incident management. STOPit’s reporting and investigation tools are a natural fit with in2vate’s philosophy of reporting, investigating and taking action. “STOPit and in2vate help deliver critical data into the hands of decision makers so they can implement necessary changes,” Duffield said. “Organizations can take advantage of enterprise risk technology to help identify red flags and address them early, and STOPit can help with that.”

The More You Know

Duffield is quick to point out to clients that though the right data and the right tools to collect that information are vital, “Continuous improvement depends on continuous learning. 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.”

For instance, in2vate offers its clients some of its industry-specific and legal content through weekly bulletins covering topics ranging from sexual harassment and discrimination to what goes in a personnel file. It’s a cost-effective means for ensuring first-line managers and supervisors are up to speed on critical workplace issues.

They also offer comprehensive training content that’s delivered online. All modules are developed using established, best-practices, like TRAC (Teamwork • Respect • Awareness • Communication) – is a multi-purpose workplace module for all employees that reinforces efforts to prevent workplace wrongdoing and makes employees aware of issues important to organizations, such as tolerance and diversity. Sensitivity Basics is another highly utilized module about what sensitivity is and what it is not. Topics include sexual insensitivity, stereotyping, and faith in the workplace. The company also curates an easy-to-search Legal Synopsis library with hundreds of articles covering a wide range of topics.

Thanks to its partnership with STOPit, in2vate provides its knowledge content for STOPit’s Resource Center, an online library for STOPit clients that helps organization administrators address issues efficiently and effectively based on best practices and professionally researched content. So far, in2vate has provided over 1,000 articles to assist administrators via the library of STOPit Premium Resources. Customers from enterprises through public school districts get enormous value out of being able to address employee and student concerns with the help of this content, all from within the STOPit Admin console.

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

Goodwill and Peace of Mind in New Mexico: How Public Safety Leaders Partnered with Citizens to Give The Gift of a Safer Community

This holiday season, Bloomfield, New Mexico is proving why it’s known as “the little city with a big heart.”

Home to nearly 8,000 people, Bloomfield has long been admired for its rich history and community spirit. Considered the heart of the four corners and gateway to the internationally recognized Quality Waters just below Navajo Dam, it’s also a destination for people who want to visit its national treasures, including Mesa Verde National Park, Salmon Ruins, Aztec Ruins, and Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

And, true to its character, its residents and public servants also have a notable history of being proactive when it comes to identifying and implementing innovative, pragmatic solutions to promote the health and welfare of the people who live and work within its city limits.

So it’s no surprise that Bloomfield is one of the first municipalities in New Mexico to adopt mobile technology as part of a strategy to safeguard its residents and businesses.

No Time Like the Present

Then

It was a typical evening in August, warm and dry, but this was no typical meeting of the Bloomfield, NM Neighborhood Watch. Packed into the meeting room, residents and business owners gathered to talk about something they’d been waiting for for a long time — a restart to the Neighborhood Watch program.

Of all the things that distinguish Bloomfield, the city certainly is not remarkable for a higher-than-average crime rate — but citizens weren’t content to sit back and ‘hope for the best’ going forward. They and their public safety officials were determined to be proactive and take positive steps to promote even greater security and safety.

That evening, in addition to the traditional, tried and true tactics of citizen watch programs, Interim Chief Randon Matthews introduced a brand new tool for those in attendance to consider; a mobile reporting app — available right on their phones — giving everyone the power to report suspicious activity, capture photographic and video evidence if possible, and send it directly to their district officer representative for immediate action. And the best part — citizens could remain completely anonymous if they chose to, making it safe to report and easy to be involved.

When the demo wrapped up, the energy and excitement was palpable — nearly everyone agreed that Bloomfield needed this tool — and sooner than later.

So, rather than wait and advocate for the cost of launching the reporting app to be added into the next budget, two residents, Debbi Vavra and Lisa Webb of Guild Mortgage, offered to underwrite the immediate purchase of the tool.

STOPit was rolled out in a soft-launch to Bloomfield residents later that month.

Now

Since officially launching STOPit in October, Bloomfield has already started seeing impressive results.

In addition to a foiled kidnapping, the recovery and return of multiple stolen cars, as well as several high-profile felony arrests for drug related offenses — citizens are using the STOPit app every day to help their law enforcement partners to stop crime and help preserve law and order.

Citizens are excited that they have such a powerful tool to connect with their neighborhood law enforcement partners. When someone sees an issue — anything from a suspicious person, to suspected animal abuse — they can easily, safely gather evidence and anonymously share that information with police to help confront and address threats.

Another significant benefit of the reporting app is that law enforcement is feeling more and more connected with those they serve — and trusted. They’re reporting text conversations with people on the other end that show citizens appreciate knowing that they’re getting real-time responses from the police department. The community is excited to be able to assist police officers.

A Two Way Street: Communication Helps People Be Vigilant and Stay Safe

At about the same time Bloomfield began investigating options for providing an anonymous reporting tool to empower their community, the Little City With a Big Heart, also re-dedicated itself to build a robust social media presence. “Our Interim Chief, Randon Matthews, feels strongly that an active, proactive social media presence is an important part of the conversation we need to be sharing with our residents, business owners and wider community,” said Suzanne Moore, Administrative Supervisor for the Bloomfield New Mexico Police Department. “One of the many things we love about the STOPit app is that it allows us to reach out to our residents and community with tips and alerts to help us all stay better connected and safer. This is a great complement to our social media campaigns.”

Visit them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you’ll see plenty of positive messages, like the one to “Remember your #9pmroutine,” — messages that promote public safety and remind us of good, old common sense ways to keep ourselves and our neighborhoods strong and safe.

“Especially during the winter holidays, we are more likely let the stresses of the season distract us from our usual vigilance — giving would-be thieves and other bad actors more opportunity to do damage and inflict harm,” cautions Moore.

Follow these tips from the Bloomfield PD to enjoy a safer, happier holiday season.

For information about bringing the STOPit Solution to your community, call now and speak with one of our public safety solutions experts.

It’s Holiday Party Time at the Office, and Rudolph Isn’t Taking Any More Nonsense at the Reindeer Games

The holidays are here. Peace and goodwill are pushed pretty heavily during a retail season that screams for our attention, but these sensibilities should be important to us year-round at work and home.

While holiday bonuses and home-baked cookies can go a long way in spreading the holiday cheer at work, an anonymous reporting system is a gift that can simplify employee communications and help make the office a better place.

After all, ’tis the season for bad behavior at office parties. Or worse, the parties after the office parties.

Naughty or Nice?

The holidays give co-workers a chance to let their guard down and spend time together in a purely social atmosphere. Relaxing around the table with drinks, they talk about things and show sides of themselves that they normally wouldn’t with colleagues – for better or worse.

Sometimes the situation gets out of hand. A manager makes an inappropriate sexual advance toward a subordinate. A blowup breaks out between colleagues who don’t get along. Someone uses or offers a co-worker illegal drugs.

Other times it’s less blatant. An insensitive — even if not mal-intended — gesture like a forced hug, off-color joke, political rant, a remark about someone’s appearance, or pressuring someone to drink more can be taken with great offense.

Come Monday morning, it’ll fall to the company HR professionals to sort through the conflicting and sometimes exaggerated versions of a story and an attempt to render fair consequences, often leaving no one satisfied and all feeling victimized. For an employer getting wind of these incidents, the headaches are such that it may be tempting to drop them — after all, oftentimes these parties are held outside of the office and after hours.

But that could be a costly mistake.

The bad feelings from these conflicts can become corrosive to office morale, leading to low productivity and turnover. Reputations hang in the balance as rumors spread and mutate with each retelling.

“With today’s millennials, if they don’t like their work environment, they will leave and find another job,” said Neil Hooper, Chief Revenue Officer for STOPit Solutions. “Employment rates are high and so are turnover rates. It’s important to create the kind of environment that allows you to keep your employees, and quite frankly, enables you to get rid of the toxic employees.”

An anonymous reporting system for workplace issues can help achieve that by encouraging bystanders to become Upstanders with smart tech solutions delivered right into their hands.

Most of the time workers want to do the right thing and share information that can alert management to problems in the office or clear the name of a co-worker who’s being unfairly maligned. However, they don’t always feel comfortable getting involved. The STOPit app gives everyone a safe way to be courageous – to protect their colleagues’ reputations with the facts, and without any fear of reprisal.

And when facts and context are important to resolving issues — which is always — anonymous reporting is a valuable asset for company compliance officers and human resource administrators, too. Often tasked with the responsibility for creating and promoting this more ideal workplace, administrators appreciate having better access to information sources who can help them sort out facts from intentional or unintentional hyperbole as they consider the appropriate, fair, and timely response to incidents.

It can be particularly helpful in industries like retail and restaurants that see a seasonal spike in business and handle it by pushing employees to work longer hours and adding temporary staff — all serving increasingly stressed and anxious customers. When you mix the ultra-busy pace of work with an influx of new and unfamiliar personalities, and add in consumer angst, the result can be a tense environment that ignites conflicts between workers. Particularly for businesses with multiple locations or with a workforce that communicates primarily through their mobile phones, communication can be especially challenging, and apps like STOPit empower everyone with one, seamless, easy to administer reporting solution.

Baking in the Holiday Blues

It is also well known that the holidays are a time when personal stress and depression levels spike. Everyone is especially vulnerable this time of year, making it even more important to have a communications outlet like STOPit on standby in the workplace.

An American Psychological Association survey exploring the causes of holiday stress found that 67 percent of respondents saw lack of time as a major factor, 62 percent cited lack of money, 47 percent the pressure of giving/getting gifts, and 35 percent the fear of raising their credit card debts. A worker who is feeling the strain from any of those things could at least partially hold their employers or their co-workers to blame. If they’re harboring hard feelings toward their job, an office party could be combustible.

“It’s a common sitcom scenario where a young employee drinks too much and they finally say what they mean to their boss,” Hooper said. “That’s funny in a sitcom, maybe not so funny in real life. Sometimes employees are crying out and they need to chance to share what’s really going on in the workplace.”

With all of that said, there is no better time than the holidays for employers to think and act positively and start setting goals for the future. For as much as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are opportunities for reflection and celebrating the year’s accomplishments, the final holiday season of the year is all about looking ahead.

“I think a great New Year’s resolution is to have 2019 be the year that we finally put a stop to bad behavior in the workplace,” Hooper said.

To learn more about how Human Resource professionals are using STOPit to improve company culture and make incident reporting and management easier, call and schedule your demo.

How to Discuss Digital Citizenship with Your Child: Their Rights, Responsibilities and How to Stay Safe in the Cybersphere

By Melissa Straub
Founder, High Impact Youth Training Solutions
and Without A Trace Investigations

In my years consulting with schools and investigating social media, cybercrime and cyberbullying issues, I’ve become all too familiar with the endless number of virtual landmines that our kids encounter every day on their cell phones and computers.

Thankfully, the challenge can be managed. But it requires a healthy dose of attention and accountability by the adult role models in our kids’ lives, both in the classroom and at home.

The online risks our kids face today begin in the earliest school years and evolve with each passing grade.

As we enter the holiday gift-giving season, many parents and guardians are likely considering the pros and cons of giving the children in their care and more access to the cybersphere. Below, I share a few important considerations about youth social-emotional development relative to internet use and social media, and some proven tips for effectively communicating both the risks of engaging online and ways we can work with our kids to keep them safer in the digital neighborhood.

The Early Years (K-5)

Kids are learning to use computers and now being exposed to digital content in the classroom as early as kindergarten. A digital shadow begins taking shape the very first time they sign into an account and begin to explore the Internet. Children in this age group should be introduced to the basic concepts of digital citizenship, Internet Safety, and what to do should they be contacted by a stranger or exposed to something that makes them uncomfortable.

Middle School

Most of the worst mistakes related to social networking are made in grades 6, 7, and 8. During this time of adolescence, young people are having fun and embracing the gift of technology, but all to frequently don’t make the best decisions in real life. These decisions often follow them into the online world. The mission at this level should be to educate kids on the issues around the permanence of information — things they share online don’t necessarily disappear when you click the delete button — and to encourage them to be the same person online as they are in the real world. Another key is teaching them about empathy and their ability to make a positive change in others’ lives by reporting cyberbullying and bullying in general.

High School

As students get ready to pursue jobs, apply to colleges, or join the military, it is an important time for parents and educators to continue pressing the importance of responsible social networking. An emphasis should be placed on making teens aware that careless social media behavior can carry serious consequences — one picture, video or comment can hurt their reputations and haunt them for years to come. Continue to talk to them about being the change their peers need and to be respectful of others online.

Tips for Teachers and Counselors

Regardless of the age, there are steps schools can take right now to ensure their students’ safety and happiness. For starters, counselors and teachers should talk about the issues in a forthright way and provide them the tools that truly empower them to “say something if they see something” — especially when it comes to their mental health. Schools should also dedicate as many resources as they can toward effectively training school personnel to identify signs of trouble among their students. In addition, counselors and educators can:

  • Teach students self-regulation, resilience and etiquette in their online communications.
  • Create lesson plans on social media usage, character education and diversity. Start early.
  • Make students aware that what they’re seeing is tailored, and often manipulated, by the person posting it – especially with celebrity feeds — so you only see what they want you to.
  • Realize social media is the platform, not the problem; the problem is in how we use it. Rather than focusing on the very latest app, recognize that, regardless of the medium, young people are facing challenges we know about and are well versed in: social pressures, making good choices, and creating healthy boundaries.

Tips for Parents

As early as pre-K, parents should encourage their children to report problems they see online and in real life while strengthening their relationships with school officials. Kids struggle with the thought of “ratting” someone out and don’t want to get caught up in others’ problems by stepping forward to report them. They need to feel assured that they can share information without repercussions and that the person who is taking those reports is listening and cares.

Parents can and should:

  • Develop a plan around social media regulation – i.e., setting time limits, putting it down at dinner table, turn-off time before bed.
  • Work with kids on developing a healthy, balanced view of what social media is and what can happen relatable to the real world.
  • Share your own stories of times when social media made you feel left out and how you coped with it. Also, talk about other kids who may feel hurt for not being included and teach your kids to understand their feelings.
  • Model the social media usage and behavior that you expect of your kids.

And a final tip for both parents and educators: Let kids know there’s no better day than today to clean up their social media accounts and commit to making better decisions about what they post from now on.

Melissa Straub is the founder of High Impact Youth Training Solutions, LLC, a specialized consulting company that provides educational training and guidance on issues directly affecting our youth, schools, and communities. She is also the founder and lead investigator for Without A Trace Investigations, LLC, which specializes in social media-related investigations, including cybercrime, cyberbullying, sexting, and other social networking issues.

To speak with an expert on anonymous reporting solutions to help youth report instances of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and other abusive and potentially harmful behaviors online or IRL (In Real Life), call STOPit Solutions today.

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