Lexington Three Using App Designed To Keep Students Safe

By Tony Baughman

Students and teachers in Lexington School District Three have a powerful new tool in the fight for a safer, healthier learning environment – one that could have the ripple effect of a safer overall community.

For the past couple of months, students at Batesburg-Leesville High School have had access to a free smartphone and desktop app called STOPit that allows them to anonymously report unsafe conditions, including bullying and potential security hazards in and around school.

“STOPit is a simple app that allows for anonymous reporting by students to the administration of things of concern,” said Ralph Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Administration. “It could be dangerous situations, or it could something as simple as a broken window or an open door. It can be utilized in a lot of ways.”

Founded in 2013, STOPit Solutions is a New York-based company originally created to combat cyberbullying in schools, to curb the epidemic of students using the Internet and social media to attack other students. The scope of the project has since expanded, according to the STOPit website, “to inspire speak-up cultures in not only the education space but also the workplace and public safety sectors.”

STOPit now boasts more than 3.5 million subscribers. Schools pay $2 to $5 per student for the monitored service, and students and teachers may download the STOPit app to their smartphones for free.

However, STOPit is not costing Lexington Three Schools anything. The South Carolina School Boards Insurance Trust, which provides the district’s insurance coverage, is paying for the service. “They made the offer to all of its members that they would provide STOPIt,” Mr. Schmidt said.

“Every student has the ability to put it on their cellphones, and we’ve expanded that and we’ve now put it on their Chromebooks,” Mr. Schmidt said. “So, now these students can make a referral in a number of ways.”

Students can submit written reports of suspicious activity, bullying or other concerns. They also may take photographs or videos and submit those to STOPit Solutions anonymously, too.

“It is designed for us to be able to have an anonymous reporting system for kids. If students do not feel comfortable in sharing something with a teacher or administrator, then they can report it through STOPit,” Mr. Schmidt added.

Once received, anonymous reports are vetted by trained operators on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. STOPit Solutions states that reports “are guaranteed to be addressed in under an hour, and most are addressed in under five minutes.”

“They review every report, and if there are things of a critical, urgent nature, then they will make phone calls,” Mr. Schmidt said. “I’m listed, as well as the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department.”

In this age of tragic school shootings, STOPit offers Batesburg-Leesville schools an added layer of potential protection. In many cases, students and others who may be contemplating school violence will telegraph their intentions on social media or in private conversations.

“If a student were to post something on Instagram at 7 o’clock and it’s reported at 8 o’clock, then we can have the police looking into it by 8:01,” Mr. Schmidt said.

STOPit also has proven effective in other school districts in alerting administrators and caregivers when a student may be contemplating suicide or experiencing physical abuse at home. “We can intervene with them much quicker, rather than have to wait until the next morning,” Mr. Schmidt added.

There are some safeguards in place to ensure that STOPit is not used by students to harass other students or otherwise disrupt school activities unnecessarily. “We take every report seriously, but we have to look at the facts of every situation,” Mr. Schmidt said.

The STOPit app, now that it has been piloted at the high school, soon will be replicated in other schools in Lexington Three, and officials hope it will be a 100 percent effective barrier to loss of life to students here.

For more information on the app and its security solutions for schools and businesses, visit www.stopitsolutions.com.

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Georgetown County Adds Nearly $2M in Security Upgrades to Schools

Meghan Miller

GEORGETOWN, SC (WBTW) – New state-of-the-art technology is better monitoring and protecting students in Georgetown County schools.

The district recently finished installing nearly $2 million in security camera upgrades at all of its schools in the county. The Avigilon effort replaced old security cameras and added enough new cameras to double the number keeping an eye on students. Georgetown County schools, however, would not elude to how many there now are.

Alan Walters, executive director of safety and risk management for the Georgetown County School District, says the district can access the cameras through a computer portal and phones. Some of the cameras provide a 360-degree look at the inside and outside of buildings, while others are built with analytic features. Walters says that could prove beneficial in an emergency situation or active investigation.

“It gives us the capability for either a person or vehicle that passes those cameras when trying to expedite a search. The analytics will allow us to click on that image and then it’ll search the other analytic cameras and help us narrow down where that person or vehicle has been on that campus,” he explained.

While the new security system has that ability, Walters reiterated that it was facial recognition and that data is not stored.

“(The footage quality) is unbelievable,” Walters said. “We’re able to zoom in, to get right down — a student walking down a hall with a piece of paper in their hand — you can read what’s on that paper.”

The Georgetown County School District has set up the system to allow local law enforcement, first responders and emergency management live access to the cameras in an active situation.

“If there’s a critical incident, all of those folks would need access to it. So they would be able to tap in live to the system,” he added.

The new security system was funded by a 2016 bond referendum voted on by county residents. The money specifically was to be used for security upgrades.

While the district now has an easier way to monitor students and staff, it also introduced a new, anonymous reporting tool this week. The “Stopit” app allows students to report a threat straight to school administrators — anything from bullying and weapons to a school or suicidal threat.

“This can be especially important in cases where someone is contemplating self-harm,” Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier said in a press release.

The app allows students to describe threats, tell administrators where they happened, and when. It also features the ability for pictures, video and file submissions, and contains information to a 24-hour tipline and National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Officials say the app was given to the district at no cost through the South Carolina School Boards Insurance Trust.

 

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Jefferson School District No. 251 to Launch Anonymous Reporting App

“I think that’s a positive, for students to have direct access to administrators in a manner that hopefully won’t be as intimidating for them,”
male testimonial icon
Chad Martin
District Superintendent

Jefferson School District No. 251 has come up with a new way for students and parents to anonymously voice their concerns.

For at least a few weeks, administrators have been training to use STOPit, a reporting tool for individuals to anonymously report anything “inappropriate or unsafe” directly to administrators, district superintendent Chad Martin said. Students and parents can report things like bullying, violence, discrimination, weapons possession, substance abuse and more through an app, website or a phone hotline service, according to the STOPit Solutions webpage.

Martin said reporters will have the option to share their name and contact information when using the tool, though it is intended to offer anonymity. Sherry Simmons, district director of secondary education, said middle school students in particular tend to be afraid that if they say something, they will not remain anonymous.

“I think that’s a positive, for students to have direct access to administrators in a manner that hopefully won’t be as intimidating for them,” Martin said.

Martin said the plan is to roll out the app for parents and students shortly after the Thanksgiving break. He said it will initially only be used at the high school and middle school levels, but could be implemented in elementary schools at a later date.

Martin said he and Simmons have been researching options for a few months. He said the idea for STOPit comes from other schools that provide similar ways for students to share anonymous information.

“They’ve been seeing some great results,” Martin said of schools using the tool.

Martin said administrators often hear about student activity indirectly, and said the hope is this will allow for more direct interaction. He said administrators will verify STOPit reports, follow up and take appropriate action when necessary.

“As a district, we’re always looking for ways to help kids be able to feel safe,” Simmons said.

Martin said the funding for the tool will come from the safe schools budget.

FULL STORY

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Brooke County and STOPit

By Tara Jabour

Brooke County administrators introduced a new app to students to help fight bullying in schools.

“The STOPit app is something that we decided to put in place in Brooke County so that our students K-12 can anonymously report bullying that takes place to them or friends,” said Stephanie Zimmer, director of technology assessment and communication.

The app affords students to directly contact administrators if they are bullied, allowing them to write out what exactly happened and provide evidence in pictures or videos.

“It’s actually better for cyberbullying because you know how Snapchat disappears in 24 hours, so now you can take a screenshot and send it to your principal,” 6th grader Elliot McDonald said.

Other students like the idea because they don’t feel as intimidated to tell administrators when something is wrong.

“I think the STOPit app is a really great idea because I know a lot of kids who feel like principals have the stereotypical ‘mean’ because they are going to yell at you, but this app helps them understand and do this anonymously so they don’t have to have a human interaction with the principal, they can do it through their phone,” 6th grader Lorelei Costlow said.

The school district wants to do everything they can to stop bullying in its schools.

“Ultimately, we are just hoping to improve safety and security for our students. We want all students to come to school excited to learn, and if we can combat bullying, then that’s one less obstacle for students to face,” Zimmer said.

Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Merced Middle School Student Arrested for Making Threat Against School

By Jim Herrin

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) — A middle school student in Merced has been arrested after police say they made a threat against Tenaya Middle School on social media. The Merced City School District said it was made aware of the post around 8 p.m. Monday after a tip was sent into the district’s “Stop It App.”

The tip contained an Instagram post made by a student, threatening to carry out gun violence on campus.

District staff contacted Merced Police who arrested the student, who made the post, around 1:00 am Tuesday.

Police say they did not find a weapon at the home.

The district says the student, who will not be identified because they are a minor, has been booked into juvenile hall and charged with terroristic threats. Officials added that the student will not be allowed to return to school.

FULL STORY

Brooke County Tackles Bullying with New App

By Gage Goulding

Brooke County Schools are booming with technology. Just last week school officials rolled out a new notification system that alerts students and parents about emergencies, school cancellations, delays and more using text messaging.

Now coming up in December, students will have a new way to anonymously report bullying right from the palm of their hands.

“Students can download this to their smartphone. They can also access this from their Chromebooks,” said Technology Director, Stephanie Zimmer.

Students will answer several questions, including where and when the incident happened, and can also attach video or picture evidence.

“Once the student reports it, it goes to administration. It goes to all the principals in the school,” said Zimmer.

Students in each school will be given a unique code for their school.

“I think it’s a great tool in our new toolbox as we begin a very robust initiative here in Brooke County on how to address bullying,” said Alternative Learning Center Principal, Mike Lewis.

“I was bullied last year really badly, and I felt alone,” said Student Senior Kaitlyn Lahita.

Kaitlyn took that experience and started the anti-bullying club at Brooke High School, which now has 30 members and had a role in bringing STOPit to Brooke County Schools.

“I love that they are trying to help out. Dr. Crook brought the idea, the STOPit app, to me and I told him it was a good idea,” said Lahita.

The STOPit app is free and can be downloaded on both Apple and Android devices. It goes live December 2nd.

Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Lexington Four Uses App to Help Stop Bullying in Schools

By Nic Jones

SWANSEA, S.C. — Lexington School District Four has announced the use of a new app to help students stop bullying in schools.

In today’s world, bullying doesn’t just happen at school or even just in person. A lot of the times, it can happen online through social media.

Students in the 7th to 12th grade will be able to start using the app, STOPit, on Wednesday, November 20th.

According to the district, students will be able to submit report anonymously to the school administration and communicate with a school administrator, and be notified when the report has wrapped up.

Lexington Four said in a Facebook post, “The STOPit app empowers students to stand up for themselves and for one another. Students have the power to help put an end to harmful and inappropriate behavior they see online through social media and other means. They can use STOPit to reach out for help if they or a peer are facing a personal crisis or experiencing bullying, abuse, or are otherwise in need of assistance. Our goal with STOPit is to create school communities which are safe and welcoming.”

When students make a report, they are not required to identify themselves. Students can identify who they are in the report, only if they choose to.

Dawn Patterson, an assistant principal at the school, says it should be a big benefit for the students and faculty.

“We hope that this allow our students to know that they are listened to, that they are safe, and that there are ways that they can communicate with us to let us know of any kind of concerns that they may have,” said Patterson.

The assistant principal says the app allows students to report incidents, even during after school hours.

“It allows them to report any kind of issues, whether there’s an issue with bullying, if they feel that there is a threat, if they think someone may have something they don’t need to have or they feel that someone may have a weapon,” explained Patterson.

Lexington Four says, “School and district personnel will determine the appropriateness of STOPit for use in the lower grades based upon what we learn while using the system with the upper grades. Students who do not have access to a smart device will have other reporting options at a later date.”

Kenneth Jenkins, a junior at Swansea High, says it’s going to be a difference maker for him and his classmates.

“It will be a way for students to communicate with administration at the school but it will be a safe way,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins says he was bullied when he was growing up because he skipped a grade. He believes it’s important to stand up for those who are being picked on.

“When you do that, you feel different when you stand up against it,” said Jenkins. “I think it’s important that we don’t be bullied because you may not know what that person may go through and you don’t know what your bullying could lead to.”

As a student, Jenkins thinks more students will report bullying because of the new app.

Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Franklin Township: Want to Report a Crime? There’s an App for That.

By TAPINTO FRANKLIN/SOMERSET STAFF

SOMERSET, NJ – Franklin has seen more than its share of shootings this year. One of the first shootings happened last Christmas and two men were shot to death in May.

Police are offering reward money to anyone with information leading to the arrest and indictment of the individual or individuals responsible for the homicide of David D. Anderson and Dominic J. Frederick. 

Police are also investigating the shooting of an unnamed person on Baker Road and shots being fired on King Road. Yesterday, police-reported a North Brunswick man who shot an unidentified New Brunswick man turned himself in to police.  

Monserrat Noyola-Narvaez, 20 was shot on Oct. 22 and later died of her gunshot wounds on Oct. 24. Noyola-Narvaez was studying to be a nurse, and her family donated her organs following her death. 

“She was a girl who always dreamed of helping and saving lives, that’s why she was studying to be a nurse,” Noyola told TAPinto while speaking of her sister. “Our family decided to donate her organs to a non-profit organization and that way, she made her dreams come true and saved six lives.”

Back in August Mayor Phil Kramer called on the public to speak to police on the record to help end the cycle of violence. 

“At the local level, it’s about gun violence,”  “When there are gun crimes in Franklin the police usually can figure out who did it very quickly,” Kramer told TAPinto in August. “They do a good job. Too often, however, people are not willing to speak on the record and thus the assailant gets away with it. This prevents the police from ending the cycle of violence.”

Back in October 2017, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office launched the STOPit appThe STOPit account for Somerset County is called Somerset Strong and has had over 400 anonymous reports come in since its inception, according to officials. The reports have provided information on numerous types of police matters such as fugitives, narcotics, as well as information on homicides.

“STOPit is a powerful tool that allows citizens to provide information to law enforcement anonymously, without fear of reprisal,” Robertson told TAPinto in a statement. “Law enforcement cannot be everywhere so citizens are our best source of information. The confidential STOPit app allows everyday people within the community to have a voice.”

With the app, users can upload photos, and videos anonymously, it also allows for real-time communication/chats with police dispatchers and/or law enforcement officers.

Robertson says the app can also has a “get help” section be used to communicate with the public with information on how to get resources for things such as opioid addiction, child abuse, sexual assault, suicide, and domestic violence.

The STOPit app can also push information out to the people of Somerset County by way of STOPit broadcasts. 

 

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Putnam City School District Rolls Out New Anonymous Safety App

By Ashley Holden
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Putnam City School District is working to make it easier for students to anonymously report bullying or any inappropriate behavior. 
 
Administrators rolled out a new app called StopIt at the beginning of the year, hoping to encourage students to come forward. 
 
A group of 8th Grade students from Capps Middle School spoke with News 9 about the app. All four, Dacha Daniels, Tanner Wood, Denivya Williams and Yuli Calderon, said they had been bullied in the past. 
 
Wood said that he had been bullied for anything and everything ranging from what he was wearing, his classes or even who he hangs out with. 
 
These students understand how much bullying can hurt, which is why they wanted to make sure students feel safe reporting anything that happens. Their experiences are part of the reason they helped with a video to let students know about the new safety feature available.
 
Administrators asked Drama teacher Austin Sterling to help with the roll out of the app.  
 
“It has really help the administration team respond quickly to incidents,” said Sterling. 
 
Sterling said they tested the app last spring and then began regularly using it just after school started in the fall. 
When an incident is reported, administrators and teachers get a notification. Each school has a certain code students use to access the app. Parents can also use StopIt, and report anything they see or hear as well. 
 
Stelring said the notifications are also available to counselors too. 
 
“They are able to quickly address situations where there may be self harm involved,” he said. 
 
Sterling said this app can be particularly helpful when it comes to cyber bullying, since administrators are not “friends” with students on social media. 
 
The app has a portion where students can upload pictures and videos. 
 
“They are available to download the app on their device,” said Sterling.  “So they can get things off of social media and do screen shots.” 
 
The group of students said they’ve already had friends use the app that said they feel more comfortable. 
 
But the group also had another message for students.
 
“Just be yourself don’t change,” said Calderon.
 
The STOPit App is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. 
 

Curious why over 5,000 organizations worldwide are using STOPit’s anonymous reporting software and 24/7/365 monitoring services?

Bullet-Proof Glass, Mental Health Teams Among New Efforts to Keep Frisco Schools Safe

By Hannah Costley

Bullet-proof glass, lockdown technology and stepped up intervention to help students at risk of hurting themselves or others are part of the Frisco school district’s newest efforts to keep schools safe.

After the deadly shooting at a high school in Santa Fe last year, Texas lawmakers made school safety a priority this past session by funneling additional money and requiring districts to enhance security efforts.

Frisco’s stepped up initiatives include focusing on mental health awareness for students and making campuses even more secure with enhanced features.

“When you look at the research, the best thing we can do to prevent school violence is to make sure every single kid has a place where they feel like they belong and they’re safe,” said Dr. Stephanie Cook, managing director of guidance and counseling services for Frisco schools.

And key to that is focusing on students’ mental health as their emotional well being has a direct connection to school violence, Dr. Cook said.

 

Enhanced building security for the district includes installing bullet-resistant glass to interior classrooms and campus lockdown technology, which can electronically lock doors and notify authorities in case of an emergency. In 2018, voters approved a bond package that included $4.3 million for such campus safety features.

The bond also includes $8.3 million for surveillance updates, which will help replace about 2,400 existing security cameras with updated models.

Texas’ new school safety bill requires districts to have an emergency plan. Frisco officials said in addition to that, the district is one of the few that has a position solely dedicated to emergency management. Jon Bodie, the emergency manager, works across the district to support training on safety, such as what to do in active-shooter situations.

“I definitely feel like we are ahead of the curve just from the standpoint of having a position fully focused on emergency preparedness,” Bodie said.

Schools have increasingly stepped up security since deadly school shootings like those at Columbine High School in 1999 and Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

For over 10 years, Frisco has collaborated with local police, fire and other emergency officials on the Situational Awareness for Emergency Response, or S.A.F.E.R., program that allows FISD and authorities to conduct safety drills as well as gives them live feed access to cameras inside and outside of the schools. The unique program helps first responders and school administrators work together as they plan and practice responses to emergencies in real time, Bodie said

The STOPit app was created two years ago as a tool for students and parents to report concerns anonymously. The app allows users to upload pictures, video, audio and, most recently, screenshots. The app has been downloaded about 19,800 times and is constantly monitored, including on weekends and holidays.

“It’s been a very valuable program to us,” Bodie said. “The monitoring around the clock makes a big difference in how we’re able to respond.”

Frisco also offers resources for teachers, including webinar-based and scenario-based training that help prepare them for emergency situations.

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