Analytics Reveal Issues Most Frequently Reported by Restaurant Staffs

When thousands of restaurant industry members gather in Chicago for the 100th Annual National Restaurant Association Show May 18-21, they won’t just be sampling the food and beverages. They’ll also take part in peer-to-peer conversations and expert panel sessions about the right recipe for ensuring their staffs are happy, safe and productive.

A key ingredient is an outlet for employees to report workplace problems to management anonymously and without fear of reprisal. STOPit Solutions conducted an analysis of anonymous reports submitted by employees at all of its restaurant industry customers nationwide and came up with a breakdown of the most common complaint types.

Here are the top four reporting types by those in the food service industry in order of volume:

STOPit Solutions Top Reporting Types for Food Service

As a way to remedy these issues and investigate the source of the problem, a growing number of restaurateurs are adopting STOPit Solutions. In doing so, they are able to combat what might be negatively affecting their businesses like high employee turnover. As the name suggests, STOPit helps solve these problems by empowering workers to take the critical first step– making management aware of them. In restaurants, that’s not something that always happens.

Restaurants are small worlds where everyone, from the waiter, to the bus boy, to the hostess, relies on one another to do their part to deliver a good meal and positive dining experience to customers. When workers in this chain are harassed or bullied, the thought of reporting the situation to management is often too stressful to follow through with. Rather than risk inflaming tensions with staff members who they’ll have to work in close quarters with each day, many simply decide to leave.

The nonprofit and 2019 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year recipient, Giving Kitchen, which assists Atlanta-area restaurant workers with emergencies and social service needs, has used its position as an influencer to recommend that eateries consider STOPit to protect their workplace cultures. Executive Director Bryan Schroeder views his organization’s use of STOPit as an investment in its staff and future.

“I really place a high value in creating a safe workplace and want to do everything we can at Giving Kitchen to ensure the camaraderie, the friendships, the closeness we have today is protected as we grow as an organization,” he said.

Schroeder said STOPit Solutions was first brought to his attention by Nancy Oswald, a Giving Kitchen Board of Trustees member who co-owns and operates several Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses in the U.S. Southeast.

“She’s one of the smartest, most adept business people I know, and when I started having a discussion with her about creating a stable workplace environment for men and women in the restaurant industry and maybe creating a resource kit for restaurants, the first thing she brought up was STOPit,” Schroeder said.

While many organizations feel that they already have adequate safeguards in place in the form of a suggestion box or legacy hotline, workers often feel more comfortable using digital platforms that allow them to share information without the risk of being seen or overheard. STOPit also provides management an opportunity to respond to tips and ask for further information while still respecting an employee’s confidentiality. There are supplemental service options available to make the tool more powerful, including 24/7 monitoring of the account and specialized training for administrators and staffs.

“Restaurants have seen success in making speaking up a part of their training process and legal experts stress that restaurant owners should mandate employees leverage their anti-bullying and harassment policies,” said Agatha Asch, Director of Communications. “If employees know that management values when they speak up about harassment, theft, or workplace issues, then it becomes part of a company’s DNA from the very start, which ultimately helps businesses run smoother.”

Contact STOPit Solutions to learn more about how anonymous reporting can encourage an open flow of information between staffs and management, reducing disputes, distractions and even legal problems.

If you’re attending the National Restaurant Association Show, come say hello to us at Booth 10260.

Educators Play An Important Role In Reinforcing Critical Social & Emotional Learning

It was National Teacher Appreciation Week this month, and we have more to say “thank you” for these days than ever. The seven hours per day, five days per week that students spend with their teachers is an opportunity for school-aged children to learn more than reading, writing and arithmetic lessons.

More and more, superior teaching programs and ongoing professional development requirements continue to elevate the profession, and kids in the classroom benefit from more a more complex, connected curriculum that includes best practices in technology and Social Emotional Learning:

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, establish and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. SEL is critical to developing competencies besides academic content knowledge that are necessary to succeed in college and in careers. Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school. SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful. — The National Education Association, Backgrounder: The Importance of Social Emotional Learning For All Students Across All Grades

Parents are the alpha and omega when setting the example and teaching their kids important lessons about empathy, compassion, critical thinking, conflict resolution and decision-making. This week, we encourage parents to seize the opportunity to forge even stronger partnership with teachers who are increasingly equipped through education and special training to reinforce these critical Social Emotional Learning lessons.

Parent-Teacher Compact, 3.0

Technology has both complicated and bolstered our work, and our K-12 classrooms are no exception to this fact. Like all tools, technology has the power to enable wonderful progress, or inflict damage when used carelessly or without skill. In our schools and in our homes, it has created digital minefields where children can inflict emotional damage on one another on and off school grounds, around the clock.

It has also provided new avenues for parents and teachers to make each other more successful.

Not long ago, parents’ only option for contacting teachers off hours was to call them at home, a step that felt intrusive for a non-emergency. Now parents can use social media, email and texts for something as simple as a homework assignment question, to far more serious discussions about a child getting bullied online.

Parents should keep those lines of communication open so they’re better aware of what’s going on in the classroom and the SEL lessons being emphasized, according to Melissa Straub, founder of High Impact Youth Training Solutions.

“Educators have a really hard battle and their hearts are in the right place,” Straub said. “Most of them have the tools and the educational foundation to provide these wonderful gifts of SEL – teaching kids all about good things like empathy, conflict resolution and emotion management. It’s just a matter of getting the message out there and getting the parents to back them up.”

One of the most important ways parents can do that is by modeling behavior that reinforces what’s being taught in school. Straub noted that if you lecture a child about taking a break from their cell phones or not reacting emotionally to a social media post, the lessons won’t hold if they see you’re not following your own rules.

SEL Lessons Protect Our Kids and Reveal Their Strengths, IF They’re Equipped & Practiced

Straub is also the founder and lead investigator for Without A Trace Investigations, which specializes in social media-related investigations, including cybercrime, cyberbullying, sexting and other social networking issues. She stressed that one of the most important things parents can do to promote good digital citizenship and support SEL efforts is to talk long and hard with their children about the internet before giving them access to it.

Teens have to navigate a literal obstacle course of road cones, study written materials and drive under adult supervision for months before receiving a driver’s license, she noted. They need nothing of the sort to enter the digital world.

“Before handing over this wonderful gift of technology, a lot of parents don’t stop to think, ‘Are these children ready for this? Have I talked to them about safety concerns?’” Straub said. “Don’t fall to peer pressure. Make your own decision on when they’re ready.”

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 cyberbullying to depression. Administrators can share links to SEL content with individual students, or use the platform’s broadcast feature to send information to a full student body at once.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) also offers a comprehensive collection of SEL tools and resources to inform and support parents, educators and other stakeholders. Much of this information is free and available to the public online.

Curious  how our  anonymous reporting system and SEL Center can help teachers and parents collaborate successfully in your school? 

And, be sure to #thankateacher!

Legislative Update: States Move to Give Employees More Resources to Fight Workplace Harassment and Bullying

The first few months of 2019 have been a busy time for state lawmakers working to combat sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace. Below is a roundup of recent action in state capitals:

CALIFORNIA: All employers with five or more workers must now provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors and one hour to non-supervisor employees. Previously, the mandate only applied to employers of 50 or more. The amendment to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act was approved by the governor in the fall and took effect on New Year’s Day.

In other news, the State Senate unanimously passed a bill in April that would make it illegal to enforce dress codes or grooming policies that prohibit hairstyles historically identified with minorities, such as braids, afros and locks. The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair (CROWN) Act seeks to challenge the assumption that white styles of dress and appearance should be the template of “professionalism” while black traits are inferior. “There are still far too many cases of black employees or applicants denied promotion or employment, even terminated, because of the way they choose to wear their hair,” bill sponsor, Holly Mitchell, said on the Senate floor.

COLORADO: A bill introduced in the State Senate would create a new Office of Legislative Workplace Relations to handle sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers. The measure was crafted in the wake of a recent report that found over one-quarter of legislative workers – including elected officials, staff, lobbyists, aides and interns – have been a victim of or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace. Of those, 87% declined to report the matter, with the most commonly cited reason being a fear of using the reporting process. Under current law, victims must file complaints against Senate and Assembly members with the leaders of their chambers, who then decide what punishment, if any, is warranted.

MINNESOTA: The House of Representatives passed a bill in March that would strike the state’s current definition of sexual harassment as a situation where the offender’s behavior is “severe of pervasive.” Proponents for the change contend that the language made it too difficult to sue for abuse that clearly crosses the line. The new definition would cover “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature” when: a) submission to that conduct is made a condition of employment or compensation; b) submission to or rejection of that conduct is used as a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment or compensation; or c) that conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. The bill is now before the Senate.

NEW YORK: New York City has launched a new unit within its Commission on Human Rights to investigate an increasing number of gender-based and sexual harassment complaints in the workplace. The aim of the Gender-Based Anti-Harassment Unit is to expedite high priority cases, reduce retaliation against victims for reporting harassment, and identify widespread problems within workplaces. The Commission also announced the addition of gender identity definitions in its legal guidance regarding discrimination on the basis of gender expression, with updated terms such as transgender and intersex.

RHODE ISLAND: A pair of bills targeting workplace harassment were passed in the State Senate in April and now head to the House of Representatives for consideration. The Healthy Workplace Act of 2019 (2019-S 0090) would make it easier for workers to take legal action against employers and co-workers for bullying, harassment and other abusive behavior that may not fall into other categories that are already protected such as race, sex or sexual orientation. The legislation aims to provide legal relief for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically or economically by deliberate exposure to abusive work environments. It would also provide legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of employees at work.

In the same week, the Senate approved a bill (2019-S 0330) that would require organizations with four or more employees to conduct sexual harassment training, rather than the current 50 employee threshold. New employees would need to receive the training within one month of hire.

Summer Break Soon For Schools, But Legislators Across the Country Continue To Advance Anti-Bullying Laws Nationwide

We’re just over a quarter of the way through the year, but 2019 has already seen significant developments in the nation’s state houses regarding bullying and harassment.

The following is a snapshot of recent activity by state:

ARIZONA: With bipartisan support in the State Legislature, Gov. Doug Ducey repealed a 1991 law this month that barred public school teachers from portraying “homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” in the classroom. The move was spurred by a lawsuit filed on behalf of two teens who contended the law had destructive impacts on LGBTQ students – namely, that it held teachers back from building tolerance among student bodies and contributed to bullying. “I am so proud of this 12-year-old and this 15-year-old for standing up and suing our state to do the right thing, because today’s vote is long overdue,” Rep. Andrés Cano said on the Arizona House floor. ” Our schools should be safe; they should be inclusive; they should be free from harassment, bullying and stigmatization.”

INDIANA: The Indiana House of Representatives rejected a measure that would have required private schools that accept state funding to follow the same anti-bullying rules as their public school counterparts. According to a report by WRTV of Indianapolis, the bill called for non-public schools to implement a protocol for investigating incidents, timetables for sharing information about incidents with police and parents, and to offer anonymous reporting option for students, among other steps. More encouraging for Indiana, is House Bill 1607, legislation that would allow students to get a protective order to stop bullying including cyberbullying.

MARYLAND: “Grace’s Law 2.0” will carry stronger fines and jail terms for cyberbullying and make offenses easier to prosecute. The law was named after Grace McComas, a 15-year-old who committed suicide in 2012 after being victimized online. McComas’s parents were on hand as Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill into law this month. One of the most prominent changes to the law makes it an offense to post harassing content online for the consumption of a broad audience, even if the target of the bullying doesn’t see it.

MASSACHUSETTS: Gov. Charlie Baker re-filed a bill in February that aims to modernize the law regarding revenge porn, sexting and cyberbullying. The legislation would provide prosecutors with new flexibility to enroll minors who are caught sharing sexually explicit images with their peers into educational diversion programs, rather than charging them for the distribution or possession of child pornography. It would also require schools to educate their students on the harm they can cause by sharing sexual images with others as a means of bullying. In addition, the law would close a prosecution loophole for those over 18 who share images that were taken consensually for the purposes of revenge or embarrassment. The bill was first proposed in 2017, but failed to clear the Legislature at the time.

NEW JERSEY: The state became the second in the nation to require public school districts to develop an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. Signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in February, the legislation will ensure that instructional materials reflect the political, economic and social contributions of LGBTQ Americans and people with disabilities. The advocacy group, Garden State Equality, celebrated the announcement, noting in a statement that reflecting more diversity in class lessons “will cultivate respect towards minority groups, allow students to appreciate differences, and acquire the skills and knowledge needed to function effectively with people of various backgrounds.”

NEW MEXICO: The Safe Schools for All Students Act will require school boards to enact comprehensive bullying prevention policies and procedures by New Year’s Day. Signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in April, the act demands schools provide avenues for reporting bullying (both orally in their preferred language and anonymously), a process for investigating complaints of bullying, due  process for students accused of bullying, and a range of disciplinary measures for students found to have bullied other students. The law specifically cites the need for better protecting LGBTQ students and demands that schools’ new bullying policies be communicated in various languages in student handbooks. Schools will also have to report annually on their progress implementing the act.

NORTH DAKOTA: State officials amended North Dakota’s 2011 anti-bullying law to require that schools develop plans for addressing online abuse taking place off school grounds. Although some officials expressed reservations about schools becoming liable for off-campus incidents, the bill overwhelmingly passed both houses of the Legislative Assembly and was signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in April. The law calls for schools to get involved in situations where electronic communications initiated off grounds  place the student in “actual and reasonable fear” of harm and “interferes with the student’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the public school.” It also requires school district personnel to notify police if they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime might have occurred on or off school property.

 Click here to learn more about anti-bullying laws, policies and regulations on the books throughout the U.S.

Want more info on anti-bullying legislation in your state?

Stopping Sexual Harassment In Healthcare & Inspiring Speak Up Cultures

Long hours. Fractured sleep. Steep learning curves. Working in the medical profession is hard, but it’s even harder for women. Female medical residents, nurses, and physicians encounter gender bias, endure sexual harassment, and face a greater risk of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression than their male counterparts. In the face of a growing and aging population, and the very real threat of a shortage of doctors, healthcare organizations can’t afford to lose any dedicated professionals due to a toxic work culture.

The healthcare industry disadvantages women at every stage of their careers, causing many to step back or down from their roles or leave the industry entirely. Aside from the obvious issues associated with mistreatment of and discrimination—no person should have to endure harassment or fear for their personal safety when doing their job—not remedying these dysfunctional behaviors won’t just ultimately drive women from healthcare, but it will also negatively impact patient outcomes.

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To combat this, women in the medical field have banded together and are now speaking out as part of Time’s Up Healthcare, an initiative to curb sexual harassment and gender inequity in medicine, which officially launched on March 1, 2019.

“You want to adapt to the culture and climate, and you want to succeed. That means you’re going to ignore the pat on the butt, the hand on the leg, and the comments — so many comments — about one’s breasts and sex life, one’s fertility plans, and loss of virginity. It’s like the locker room, but it’s the halls of medicine,” Jane van Dis, MD, Ob/Gyn, Ob Hospitalist, and one of the steering committee members of Time’s Up Healthcare told InStyle.

The healthcare field needs to address these issues for the mental health of female employees: female doctors have double the rates of burnout as their male colleagues, and have at 2.5 to 4 times the rate of the general population.

“Many who have experienced harassment and abuse will demonstrate such behaviors as post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, and lessened ability to make decisions,” Susan Strauss, registered nurse and harassment and bullying consultant in Burnsville, Minnesota, said in the the 2018 Sexual Harassment of Physicians report. “Many victims question their self-worth and ask, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’”

Fortunately, with the advent of tools like STOPit, empowering healthcare staff to report sexual harassment and misconduct is simple. It’s easy to implement safe, confidential reporting and it’s easy to administer with STOPit’s best-in-class incident management system. In less than an hour, assigned staff can be up and running on STOPit Admin, with an intuitive, customizable dashboard and user experience that makes incident management and reporting extremely manageable in the context of an already high-pressure work environment.

 

Partnership Spotlight: Giving Kitchen Is Honored For Its Role As A Progressive Leader In the Heart Of Atlanta

The STOPit Solutions community is delighted to celebrate a tremendous achievement by one of our valued partners, Giving Kitchen.

After six years of providing Atlanta-area food service workers emergency assistance and resources, the nonprofit will be honored with the prestigious 2019 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year award at a ceremony in Chicago on May 6. The Humanitarian of the Year is awarded to an individual or organization whose work in the food services industry improves the lives of others and this is certainly true for Giving Kitchen.

This year, Giving Kitchen plans to use its platform as an influencer to engage workers more on issues of self-care and stability, such as mental health, suicide prevention, financial well-being, and eliminating stressors such as sexual harassment and discrimination from workplaces

Bryan Schroeder, Giving Kitchen’s Executive Director and a guiding force building Giving Kitchen’s leadership legacy, noted that many small restaurant businesses don’t have plans in place to deal with harassment and their employees may not even know who to approach when it happens. 

“There are no bad apples, only bad barrels,” he said. “I really do think that’s an important topic of discussion for restaurants to consider, recognizing that we are responsible for the work environments we create.”

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to inspire speak up cultures in your organization.

Schroeder seems to be playing a role he was born for. His parents opened their first restaurant in Rome, Georgia, when he was just three days old. Growing up, he was exposed to every facet of restaurant life, from washing dishes to the tough management decisions required of business owners. Yet, Schroeder felt a strong calling toward public service, which led him to pursue a masters degree from Georgia’s Institute for Nonprofit Organizations. Upon graduation, he spent a decade with the environmental advocacy organization the Georgia Conservancy.

When the Giving Kitchen position opened, he recognized a unique opportunity to marry his restaurant and nonprofit backgrounds and help make a difference in people’s lives, starting with Giving Kitchen. He and his team quickly began implementing changes that signaled a commitment to leading by example.

“It’s never too early for a small organization to start planning a future where you need really strong safeguards against abuse, malfeasance, embezzlement, sexual harassment or discrimination,” Schroeder said. “We’re a small organization now, but we’ve doubled in size since I started working there a year and a half ago, and we’ll probably double again in the next few years.”

Not yet a decade old, Giving Kitchen quickly outgrew its first office. Schroeder recalls its open setup as the kind of space that would work well for a tech startup, but did not offer the kind of anonymity and privacy its visitors needed. Today, it occupies a sizable office with a conference room and areas where people can feel at ease while talking about what’s happening in their lives.

But when asked to describe how it feels for Giving Kitchen to be recognized for its work as winner of the 2019 JBF Humanitarian of the Year award, Schroder is clear about who gets the credit, “When I hear people say Giving Kitchen changed Atlanta, it’s not anything we did,” said Schroeder. “It was Atlanta coming together to create Giving Kitchen that changed Atlanta.”

Giving Kitchen grew out of an overwhelming community response to assist Ryan Hidinger, a well-known Atlanta chef, with financial support to cover cancer treatment expenses that were not covered by insurance. Executive Director Bryan Schroeder credits those who came together to create Giving Kitchen with changing the region’s food industry forever by making the community more tight-knit and supportive of each other’s work.

Since its inception, Giving Kitchen has awarded $2.4 million in Crisis Grants to some 1,600 workers struggling with injuries, health problems, the loss of loved ones, housing issues and other emergencies. The organization also runs a Stability Network program that connects restaurant workers with social services such as mental health and child care assistance.

Not Hopeless: Integrating Trauma-Informed Care To Positively Impact Youth Considering Self-Harm

Note: This post may trigger an adverse reaction. If it is beginning to upset you, please stop reading and talk to your support team.

Young people who take their own lives: know the warning signs of mental illness

We are saddened by the continuing statistics surfacing around youth suicide, including the 2 most recent in Parkland, Florida. While school safety is the largest visible topic that we address across the country with our STOPit platform, the hidden issue we address far more commonly relates to youth depression, mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), for every child lost in a school violence/shooting in the United States, there are 25 lost to suicide. In fact, upwards of 6% of the reports we receive on our platform each week in K12 schools are tied to suicide.

School shootings need to end, and at STOPit we are dedicated to continuing to help avoid planned attacks and violence with our approach that encourages bystanders to become upstanders. However, for every school threat avoided, we help avoid significantly more self harm incidents thanks again to upstanders using STOPit. It is clear that youth suicide is an epidemic that should emerge as an equally high priority in the wake of recent tragedies.

As such, we teamed up with Strive, a trauma-informed outpatient recovery program, to discuss how they have implemented evidence-based techniques to help individuals, schools, and communities heal from the results of trauma. As experts in this field, they have a valuable perspective on how to help avoid these events before they occur and how to implement effective programs if they ever did.

Q: Let’s start with the environment before there is a tragedy. Students often know when their friends are struggling. They recognize telltale signs and behaviors that are indicators of broader issues. How do you communicate with schools and their students about the importance of saying something, knowing this?

Strive: We point out to schools that students, who spend all their time with their peers, notice much more than the more openly troubling behaviors of their friends.

There are the obviously dangerous behaviors: John is getting into fights where he never did before. Mary is smoking (marijuana). Someone is cutting themselves (self-harm).

But there are also more subtle warning signs. It takes training and education to notice these:

– “My friend doesn’t want to do the things he used to love to do; he won’t play Lacrosse anymore, say.” Hearing this, a counselor might ask, “Why not? Is your friend under pressure not to fail? Is he being mocked? Threatened?”

– “I notice that Jennifer is only eating salads lately. And she’s dressing differently.”

– “My buddy Tom is suddenly eating alone in the cafeteria and doesn’t talk much.”

These are all behaviors which might point to depression, anxiety, or social tensions.  Students, and frankly many adults, won’t pick up on them because they seem inconsequential. But to counselors, they might turn out to be important indicators, warning signs.

We don’t want to over diagnosis; but we must be aware.

The key point is, to notice these things takes education and training, for all of us, and especially for young people. Then they need an accessible way to report them, a way they will accept and use within their own value system.

Q: We all went to school, and we know the feeling at that age that it’s socially risky to “get other kids into trouble.

Strive: Yes, kids have their culture, and it seems risky to ‘tattle’, to tip off the school or parents to these issues, especially regarding the bigger problems. But we believe we can change this attitude for many young people. We try hard to reach young people about caring, and real responsibility for their friends.  Couple this approach with a way of reporting behaviors anonymously, and schools and parents can begin receiving — literally — life-saving information.

Q: Can you talk a little about the importance of 24/7 monitoring; so not only in school but also after school?

Strive: Yes, a few points on this are important to understand.

In the evenings, young people can become disconnected from their social milieu even though they may think that social media substitutes. Weekends, especially Sundays, the “reentry day,” can become problematic for young people with anxiety or depression. So 24/7 family support and awareness, and if necessary, communicating back to school counselors is critical.

Young people express anxiety and depression differently than adults.  While adults may become saddened or suppressed, young people are likely to become irritable, or transfer emotional pain to their bodies, as chronic pain, or headaches, or even stomach aches. Adolescents can become resistant and antagonistic as any parent knows.

We believe it’s important to have a set dinner time, preferably with the phones turned off. Behavioral issues are a disease of disconnection, so we urge families to connect and listen.

We don’t want to become helicopter parents, but we do want to keep a line in.

Q: As a service provider addressing trauma, you deal first-hand with children’s safety and that must, at times, feel daunting. How do you stay positive and what is your advice to those  that are feeling overwhelmed by the statistics around self harm and suicide in our youth?

Strive: You said it! We are exposed to trauma every day, sometimes all day and it isn’t easy.   But trauma is not the only phenomenon in this life. We urge people to express gratitude, with intention and with honest feeling for the wonderful people and beautiful things that do happen around us. One clinician at Strive creates a “gratitude list.” There are clinicians and clients who balance the bad by making a point of helping— a friend, a social agency. And hey, you can turn off the cable TV every so often.

We thank Strive for helping us with the discussion around this difficult topic and we appreciate the Strive Cares perspective.

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Are you, or is someone you know, struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers, and provides free and confidential emotional support to people who are in crisis, or experiencing emotional distress, 24/7. For immediate assistance, call 1-800-273-8255.

We’re Family In the Food Industry: Let’s Get Healthy & End Harassment At Work

It was a new drama every time Robin walked into the kitchen of the New York City restaurant where she waited tables. The source: a cook whose specialty was a foul broth of insults and inappropriate comments.

Eventually, she gave him a piece of her mind and hoped he’d back off. No such luck. In the restaurant industry, revenge can be a dish not served at all.

“He stopped making my orders,” she recalled. “All of the other tables were getting their food on time. The customers were annoyed and taking it out on me, by complaining or giving me bad tips. I felt trapped — it was a toxic situation.”

Ask anyone you know who has worked in a restaurant and they’re almost guaranteed to have a comparable story. Statistics show that it is one of the most stressful industries in the country in terms of dealing with sexual harassment and bullying.

The Front & Back Of the House: Depending On Each Other To Succeed Means Working Together To End Abuse

According to a report by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an incredible 90 percent of female workers claim to have been sexually harassed by customers, with half claiming it happens on a weekly basis.

As famously portrayed in books, films and TV series like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and Bradley Cooper’s Burnt, the the restaurant and food services industry is incredibly fast-paced and high energy and often the front and back of house are non-stop action, leading to high levels of stress and frustration. Still, this is no longer an acceptable excuse for a toxic work environment. A Modern Restaurant Management columnist recently outlined a few acts that would be considered sexual harassment in the industry, although they could hold true in any setting:

  • A supervisor demanding a sexual quid pro quo from a subordinate for a work benefit
  • When people are treated as inferior due to their gender
  • Management retaliating against a worker for alleging sexual harassment

The problems often stem from people who are supposed to be on the same team. Two-thirds of female workers and over half of men reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment from their managers, while nearly 80 percent of women and 70 percent of men surveyed said they were on the receiving end from their co-workers. Roughly one in five women reported being pressured by management to sexualize their behavior and/or appearance when dealing with customers.

Contact us now and learn how restaurant industry leaders are using the latest tech tools to be more successful.

And of course workers who rely on tips are in an especially precarious position, as they often have to tolerate the intolerable in order to make a living. Waiters and waitresses are dependent on solid performances from bartenders, cooks, bus boys, dishwashers, hostesses and others in order to deliver customers the pleasant dining experience they expect.

Chefs Have Their Toolbox, Restaurant and Food Service Orgs Need Theirs, Too

The restaurant industry is not immune to the changes taking place in the #MeToo era. As an essayist in Eater observed, “We cannot afford to pretend everything is all better because we got rid of the most heinous bad actors, like Mario Batali” — no less than a culture change is necessary.

Owners who take proactive steps to promote happy and healthy atmospheres in their workplaces will maintain their best workers and protect their bottom lines. Those who don’t risk allowing bad behaviors to fester, leading to staff turnover, unhappy customers and lawsuits that can destroy their businesses. When customers see unpleasant working conditions they often go to social media to share what they saw, so solutions that address workplace issues before they spiral out of control can have real effects to the bottom line.

In Robin’s case, even though the cook’s behavior was bad for the business, she felt like telling the manager was a lost cause – the two were friends and disciplinary action was unlikely. So she dealt with her problem the way so many others do in the industry – she quit. But if she had some way of letting the owner know, she said, it’s possible they could have straightened the situation out.

Legal experts stress that restaurant owners should mandate employees sign on to anti-bullying and harassment policies. These documents not only help employers minimize or avoid liability, but ensure everyone is clear on what’s expected of them. At least one fast food chain, Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes, has taken the concept a step further, asking workers to agree to a social media harassment policy.

STOPit Solutions’ anonymous reporting app has a growing number of clients in restaurant chains, according to Chief Revenue Officer Neil Hooper. The app empowers workers who would otherwise feel too vulnerable to share their stories straight with the company’s human resources officers and others who can solve the problem.

An anonymous reporting system can be a valuable tool for retaining reliable workers in an industry that is known for its high turnover. Restaurant and bar jobs open all the time, providing employees plenty of mobility if they’re not happy with their work situations.

Hooper noted that STOPit can be especially helpful during summer and holiday seasons, when restaurants staff up with short-term workers who are not invested in their new workplace cultures.

“It’s a busy time that’s already stressful for employees,” he said. “When you add in bad behavior from one worker to another, it can create a lot of tension. We have heard from a number of employers that it’s an important time to have an anonymous HR reporting system in place.”

Contact STOPit today to learn more about how anonymous reporting can help thwart harassment and bullying in your business.

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

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

And the prevalence of sexual assault can be shocking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I Ask” for “Awareness to Action”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

RAAIN

NO MORE

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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

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

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

Moms Empower Bystanders To Become Upstanders with Technology:

STOPit Joins Experts for Podcast On Bullying in Schools

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

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

WJCT is a local affiliate of NPR Radio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bryna R.: Good morning.

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

Neil Hooper: Hi Melissa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There IS a solution.

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

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

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