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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assess Your Current Culture — And React

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

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

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

Workers Are Tuned in to Incidents Of Discrimination

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

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

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

Get Ahead Of These Issues (Or Face Unnecessary Risks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women In Tech: Fixing The ‘Leaky Pipeline’

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

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

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

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

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

The High Cost of A Toxic Work Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Solutions for Tech Problems

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

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

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

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

The Bottom Line

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

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

WeTip Anonymous Reporting Empowers Citizens to Thwart Welfare Fraud

Image courtesy of GotCredit on Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank A. DiLallo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe and Sound: Hospitality and Travel Industries Empowering Employees

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

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

Law Enforcement Partners

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

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

Employee Safety

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

Tackling Human Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help for Victims of Trafficking

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

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

Indicators of Human Trafficking

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

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

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

New Year Brings New Resolve for Students Ready to Report Bullying

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.

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

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.

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