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

“You’re a tattle tail.”

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

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

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

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

For more information on David’s Legacy Foundation, please visit: www.davidslegacy.org
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Putnam County Schools Launching Anonymous Bullying Tipline App

 

Classes begin Thursday for students in Putnam County, and from day one, school administrators are cracking down on bullying.

They’re doing it through an app that gives students a platform to report things anonymously.

Bullying in the classroom often transcends in this day and age to social media.

Phyllis Atkinson is a grandmother of students in the Putnam County school system and worries about other children being harassed by their peers.

“They grow up and feel like they don’t matter,” Atkinson said. “(they) go inward and not want to have any socialization at all, or do something maybe worse.”

Putnam County Schools are on a mission to empower and protect students with new technology that could stop bullying in its tracks.

The “Stop It” app is a tool for students to anonymously report issues in or out of school, whether it’s cyberbullying and harassment or threats of violence or self-harm.

“We want kids to feel comfortable here, so this is a way for them to let us know what’s going on,” Matt Shock, Winfield Middle School Principal, said.

School leaders say students may submit the anonymous tip in the privacy of their bedroom, in their car, or anywhere, to make a report about the things going on in their life.

Administrators built a profile for each county school with its own identifying code that students will receive on the first day of school. From that point on, they can anonymously send information, including pictures and videos, to designated staff members at each school.

“Those folks are able to get that information immediately, and there can be two-way communication between the person who submitted it and the administrator,” Danielle Gillispie, school administrator, said.

Staff members are then able to log information and manage incidents in a back-end system that can be referenced at a later time.

“We can investigate it, try to get to the bottom of it, and kids need to be able to communicate that,” Shock said.

The app will officially launch Thursday in Putnam County Schools, and while there will likely be a few kinks to work out, school officials think the app is a proactive approach to a nationwide issue.

“It’s another level of protection we can give our students and get conversations rolling on how to keep our schools safe,” Gillispie said.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea. Anybody that sees anything going on, they don’t have to be afraid. You’re helping that friend to not go through what you went through,” Atkinson said.

FULL STORY

Bristow Public Schools Adds New Security Systems

Bristow, O.K., Aug 9, 2019 (News On 6) – Students in Bristow head back to school on Monday, and should be safer than ever. District leaders said they spent the last two months installing new security systems in every building.

“We feel safe here in our community, but we want to make sure we don’t have one or two unfortunate things,” Assistant Safety Director Lawrence Seachris said.

Seachris said their new visitor verification system is called School Safe I.D.

“Any visitors that we have check in to these vestibules, they’ll use a state-issued I.D.,” he said.

After you scan your I.D., the system automatically checks a national database for sex offenders. If and only when you’re cleared, the double doors to the school will unlock.

“It ensures that we know who’s coming in and out of our building to ensure all our students are safe,” Seachris said.

Seachris admitted the system takes a little more time than a sign-in sheet, but after the first time, he said you can add your visitor pass to your phone and skip the checkpoint next time.

“It takes a little more time the first time, but after that, it gets better,” he said. “And it’s worth the time because it ensures safety.”

Seachris said in a time where there is so much fear surrounding school safety, the extra few minutes are worth it to the district, and to parents, if it means stopping someone who isn’t welcome.

“If we can do anything we can to ensure that everybody’s safe, any extra measure is welcome,” he said.

As another safety measure, Seachris said the district asking parents and students to download an app called “Stop It” that allows them to anonymously report anything they see that’s suspicious.

Schools getting new security measures

Cookeville, T.N., Aug 10, 2019 (Herald Citizen) – School resource officers will be patrolling the halls of all Putnam County schools this year, and a more intensive screening of school visitors is in the works.

The school board this month approved a $27,642 contract for the Ident-A-Kid Visitor Management System, which will replace the practice of manually signing in visitors to the schools.

“We looked at three different vendors and Ident-A-Kid was the one that everyone preferred,” said Deputy Director of Schools Corby King, adding that he hopes to have the new system in place by Labor Day.

King said visitors will still have to show a photo ID at the school’s front door in order to gain access. From there, they will go to the office to complete the process.

“When you go in, the system scans your ID, checks it against the sex offender registry, and then takes a picture of you and prints it on the visitor label,” he said. “It uses the name from your driver’s license, but it takes a current picture.”

He said the system also allows more detailed information to be kept about visitors.

“You can import what they call a no-go list, so if parents have some type of order of protection against another parent or someone else — and this happens a lot —then you enter that information or update it in the system,” he said.

Funding for the new system comes from recurring money allocated by the state of Tennessee after the completion earlier this year of the first-ever statewide assessment of school facilities and safety procedures.

Putnam County also received a one-time allocation of $260,000 to address security issues identified in the individual school site surveys.

King said $109,000 of that allocation was used to update cameras and video surveillance systems, and $76,000 was put toward a program that provides digitized maps of school floor plans to emergency responders.

Another $60,000 was budgeted for the purchase of bollards — concrete barriers that are installed to prevent vehicles from driving into school buildings.

“A lot of schools have those scheduled to be installed over fall break,” King said. “We weren’t the only school system doing this, so some of the local companies were kind of overwhelmed, I think, with some of the requests.”

King said the barrier type may vary.

“The principals and SROs are working together to determine what they want,” he said. “Some are getting the sphere bollards, some are getting post bollards, and some are getting big concrete planters. They all serve a similar purpose.”

In addition, King said the school system has adopted a new tip line for students and parents to report suspicious activity.

“Last year, the tip line that we had was Safe Schools Alert, and we just really weren’t happy with that product,” King said. “It seemed a little bit clunky, so people just didn’t use it that much.”

This year, the schools are using a different vendor called Stopit Solutions.

“Several districts in Tennessee are using it. White County, Jackson County, Warren County and Rutherford County, have gone to Stopit,” he said.

He said the system uses a smartphone app or a website.

“You can click the app and submit a report that goes straight to the school administration, whether it be bullying, harassment or whatever,” he said. 

King said serious threats are also relayed to 911 and law enforcement.

“We always emphasize ‘if you see something, say something,’ ” he said.

Additional security improvements will be included in the application for this year’s round of state security grants, which is due by Sept. 20 and will be based on updated site surveys being conducted this month.

Glynn County school district wants to ban bullies with smartphone app

By Ashley Harding

Once the report comes in, Lewis said, intervention is available for the student being bullied, and the student who is the bully. 

“They need services to find out why they’re doing that,” Lewis said. “So, it’s not just reacting to the behaviors that are unacceptable. It’s looking at that particular child and saying, ‘Hey, why do you feel like you need to be a bully to someone else?'”

If someone ever hesitates to report bullying they’ve witnessed against another student, Lewis hopes all students will remember to do what is right.

“It’s never wrong to do the right thing,” Lewis said. “And the best scenario would be that, ‘How would you feel? What would you want somebody to do for you?’ If you want somebody to speak up for you, if you want someone to help you, you are that person for someone else.”

The “STOPit” app is available through Google Play or the Apple App store. The district wants students to know they can always report bullying the old-fashioned way, by going to a trusted adult. 

To learn more about the “STOPit” app, click here to see the instructional video provided by the Glynn County school system

Lubbock Area Districts Highlight Safety, Security Going Into New School Year

Security cameras, extra officers on duty and upgraded protocols are among the many steps towards a safer school year that administrators have been working on all summer and are now ready to put into practice as students return to school Wednesday at Lubbock ISD and Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Aug. 19 at Frenship ISD.

Lubbock ISD

The Lubbock Independent School District has been upgrading many of its security and safety protocols over the last few months, with a lot of work being put into their visitor system and ways to report information about a dangerous situation anonymously through their STOPit app. Their visitor management system, Lobby Guard, has been upgraded with new kiosks on the campuses, and visitors will need an official form of identification to be allowed into the building.

“We will be working with our parents who don’t have state-issued IDs to get them key tags so they’re able to check in to Lobby Guard as well,” said Stacy Carter, director of school safety and security for Lubbock ISD. “We also have STOPit now, so anyone across the community can report concerns through the web or app.”

There have also been upgrades to the facilities that will continue with construction through the year. All campuses will be able to alert the police department by the push of a button and get new public address systems, which will help send alerts through the campus and district if an incident is occurring. There are different options for the alerts, such as bus accident, and the alert will send updated rosters to teachers electronically to account for everyone in the building.

Another precaution being taken this year is being sure staff members and administrators have been trained for trauma-informed care and mental health first-aid, as well as having a threat assessment team on every campus and a district-level assessment team. The school district has also started piloting social and emotional lessons into the curriculum in 11 schools this year, including suicide and bullying prevention.

“If a student or staff member makes a threat to hurt themselves or others, we have an assessment we can do to determine the next steps that need to be taken to help that individual,” said Carter. “The classes are a lot of teaching kids how to handle social situations and their emotions, things like how to have a conversation and take turns.”

Along with the usual lockdown drills and keeping open communication with the community, Carter said their goal is to meet every need for students and faculty on campus and to act before a tragedy can occur.

“Our goal is to meet physical, social, emotional and psychological safety of both students and staff,” said Carter. “Our focus it to be proactive and preventative and that’s where the community is going to help us quite a bit. Our motto going into this year is ‘See something, say something, do something, stop it,’ because we can’t stand by and watch things anymore.”

Lubbock-Cooper ISD

Since the Lubbock-Cooper ISD board approved having a certified peace officer at a every campus a few years ago, the security measure has added ten full-time officers and three additional officers for extra events or as needed.

“We try to cover as much as we can, when we can,” said Rick Saldana, chief of police for LCISD. “Our door system has controlled access and our officers are checking them two to three times during their shift and perimeter checks.”

There are video systems throughout the district and on each campus that are able to scan inside and outside, and all doors will remain locked during school hours. Each main door leads into a security vestibule, not directly into hallways, and front office administrators will run visitors through a quick check in the Raptor monitoring system. The protocols are a way for anyone on campus to take responsibility for suspicious activity.

“All our employees take part in our security,” said Saldana. “The maintenance crew, teachers, administrators – we all work together, we try to stay vigilant and on top of things. Everyone does their part and at the end of the day, it’s about keeping kids safe and providing a safe environment where kids can come to school and feel safe learning and teachers can feel safe teaching.”

Officers in the district are taking a refresher course on mental health training as well after doing so two years ago. Saldana said the course enhances the officers ability to pick out something that seems unusual, and that all the employees have a good intuition about saying when something doesn’t seem right.

The important thing, said Saldana, was to always be ready to change security tactics depending on how society changes. By staying ahead, Saldana said they can be successful at making parents comfortable.

“As the bad guys change their tactics, we have to change ours too, so we’re constantly trying to stay not just one but two or three steps ahead and that’s where we plan to stay,” said Saldana. “We want our kids to come to school and feel comfortable. We don’t want them thinking, ‘Is this going to be the day?’ Yeah it stays in the back of your mind, but we’re here to educate kids, love them, and provide a good learning environment.”

Frenship ISD

A big key in tackling safety for Frenship ISD was working on any blind spots that security might miss. Over the summer, the camera system has been upgraded to a more extensive measure that allows officers and school administrators to access any camera on any campus from their desk or home if a situation needs to be monitored immediately.

“It’s a force multiplier,” said Roy Bassett, chief of police for Frenship ISD. “One officer can truly monitor numerous hallways of whatever school they’re assigned to from their desk. They can monitor that and look for problems themselves and hopefully cut off things before they get serious.”

Frenship adopted the standard response protocol which Bassett says can handle several situations such as a lockdown or a lockout, which will lock students in the school to avoid a problem outside. This protocol revealed that students at the high school who have classes in the outer buildings on campus would not be secure, so security changed that by adding a new fence outdoors.

“If kids were trying to change classes during a lockout, they would have to leave the security of the building in order to get to a new secure position,” Bassett said. “So now, all high school students are able to move from one building to another, they will be outside in a secure area.”

Officers for Frenship ISD are also about to attend a mental health peace officer certification course so they can all be certified by the time school starts. Bassett said safety is everyone’s job on campus.

“We’re out there to be a physical presence and reminder, but it starts at home and with the students,” said Bassett. “See something, say something is not just a clever saying, it’s truly the way we need to be in this day and age.”

Want to report a crime tip in Camden? There’s an app for that.

By Carly Wanna

PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 23, 2019 (Philadelphia Inquirer) – Several times a week, the Camden County Police Department asks the public for help. Police post on social media requesting tips on a missing person, fugitive, or suspect in a crime.

Citizens can report what they know about criminal activity in the city of Camden via a variety of platforms –– the department tipline, a phone call, and, now, texts from a smartphone.

On April 18, Camden’s police force became the second department in New Jersey to contract with STOPit Solutions, which provides an app that allows users to anonymously send crime tips to law enforcement through messages, photos, and videos. The Camden County department paid $4,500 to use the app for a year, and has the right to renew it, according to county spokesperson Dan Keashen.

Anonymous tips are far from new in Camden, but the app encapsulates the benefits — and, to some, the potential pitfalls — of crime reporting in the digital age.

“We look for different ways to interface with the people that we serve,” said Lt. Zsakhiem James, a community commander in Camden. “There’s some strength in anonymity. We’re building our relationship with the public.”

Since the launch of the app, James said, the department has received nearly 500 criminal incident reports, and 600 people have signed up to use it.

Once a user downloads the free app, STOPit prompts the user to enter an access code — in this case, “camdennj” — to connect with the proper channel. Centering the home screen is a large megaphone with “REPORT” written below it. Click the icon, and the app displays a text box with options to add photos and video.

The application does not replace 911, which James said residents should still call for emergencies.

James said he could not share specifics about the tips people submit on the app because many involve ongoing criminal investigations. Still, he said, people report “all kinds of things” — prostitution, drug complaints, information on homicides, and more. Many of these tips have been helpful, he said.

STOPit also has a feature that allows police departments to make announcements. James said they have yet to use this feature, sticking to their Twitter and Facebook accounts instead.

The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office in Central New Jersey was the first law enforcement agency in the nation to use the app in October 2017. Somerset has received 350 anonymous reports on a variety of incidents, including fugitives, narcotics, and information on homicides, according to Detective Jeanne Trillhaase, the public information officer for the Prosecutor’s Office.

“STOPit is a powerful tool that allows citizens to provide information to law enforcement anonymously, without fear of reprisal,” Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson said in a statement. “Law enforcement cannot be everywhere, so citizens are often our best source of information.”

In 2013, STOPit Solutions, based in Holmdel, N.J., rolled out an app to prevent bullying in schools, offering students the option to anonymously report harassment to administrators. Since then, STOPit has diversified its products and now serves 4,000 networks, including police departments, schools, and workplaces. More than 80,000 incident reports have been filed on the app worldwide since its debut, the company said.

Camden residents have long been able to call in tips anonymously through the police hotline. But apps used to send unnamed tips are new, and criminology researchers do not have firm data on the impacts of these technologies.

Nathan Link, an assistant professor of sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice at Rutgers-Camden, said researchers must rely on anecdotal evidence to evaluate unproven apps like STOPit, which Link says has its pros and cons. The anonymity of the app could encourage otherwise reluctant citizens to report crime, he said, but there is a danger that overzealous reporting could target specific individuals or communities, particularly communities of color.

“When you put these sort of powers in people’s hands, it can bring out the racism from some people,” he said.

Link said he’s not sure how effective STOPit will be in Camden, where residents have long hesitated to engage with law enforcement.

Miguel Arriaga, owner of Miguel’s Pharmacy in East Camden and a Camden community leader, was more optimistic. He said the app fits in well with today’s digital world, and residents are using it.

The police “have earned the trust of the people,” said Arriaga, who uses the app. “The people are trying to trust the system again.”

FULL STORY

Camden County Police Department launches new STOPit app for texting tips

By Joyce Evans

CAMDEN, NJ, July 16, 2019 (Fox 29 Philadelphia) – The Camden County Police Department is using a new tool called STOPit to deter crime. The app allows police to collect reports from citzens about illegal activity. People can submit information in real-time and anonymously. “We’re going to try anything to reach out to the community to open those channels of communication,” Camden County Police Community Commander Lt. Zsakhiem James told FOX 29.

“You can actually send us a picture so we can see exactly what you’re looking at instead of offering vague eyewitness descriptions, and you can text back and forth with an officer inside the app without them ever knowing who you are,”  Lt.Zsakhiem said.

STOPit also allows officers to notify the public about important public safety information.

Since April, 600 people have signed up for the app and Camden police have received over 500 tips. 

FULL STORY

 

 

Students Use App More Than 100 Times To Report Bad Behaviors

FRANKLIN, IN, June 11, 2019 (Daily Journal) – Students at Franklin schools used the STOPit app more than 100 times to report conflict and suspicious activity in the final two months of the school year.

Two reports came from the district’s five elementary schools. The other 102 came from Custer Baker Intermediate School and Franklin Community High School, which had 36 reports each, and Franklin Community Middle School, which had 30 reports, Operations Director Jeff Sewell said in an email.

The app is the first of its kind at Franklin schools, which hope to encourage students to report misconduct using the shield of anonymity. Details about the types of activity reported, such as suspected drug use or bullying, were not available.

“I think we’re getting more reports overall. We’re getting some reports we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten because people have the option to submit anonymously,” Sewell said. “In some cases, students leave their name and are willing to talk.”

Using the app, students can share text, photos or videos and communicate with school administrators without having their identities released.

Other Johnson County school districts have their own reporting systems. Center Grove schools uses a service called Safe Schools Alert. Using the system, students can report their concerns anonymously through text, email, phone or online, according to the district’s website. Edinburgh Schools has what they call a Bully Buster Box, where students can submit bullying incidents, Superintendent Doug Arnold said.

Clark-Pleasant schools has a link on its website where people can report anonymous tips. It also has a space where users can attach files, such as images, to accompany their reports. Indian Creek schools also has a link on its website, called a bullying report form, but requires the name of the person reporting the incident.

Most of the reports on the STOPit app have been about intrapersonal conflict that has not reached the stage of bullying, Sewell said.

“We don’t very frequently have alleged bullying so much as ‘so and so was mean to me,’ or ‘someone said a bad thing about me’ or spread a rumor. Some of that kind of stuff is more a conflict between peers than systemic and regular repeated harassment,” Sewell said.

“We try to adhere to the state guidelines for what constitutes bullying. Mean behaviors happen all the time, it doesn’t mean someone is being bullied, but if the same behavior is done over and over, it’s just one of the ways that becomes bullying.”

When there is conflict between students, staff will sit down with students and try to resolve the issue after hearing what both students have to say, he said.

In cases of sexual harassment or assault, more serious action is immediately required. In those cases, Franklin schools will report the incident to the Department of Child Services, which would give information to law enforcement. The school would also contact the victim’s parents and ensure the victim is protected and away from the student who committed the actions, Sewell said.

Some reports involve vaping either tobacco or marijuana, which can lead to school discipline and legal action. The main purpose of the system, however, is to make sure students are helped to correct their behavior rather than punished, Sewell said.

“How do we help you get into positive relationship practices and conflict resolution to set yourself up to be successful? In a lot of these cases other sources of stress in their lives or in their home lives are causing harmful behavior, we have to be aware of all those factors,” Sewell said.

“We always hold kids out of line accountable, but not to be penalized so much as to prevent them from growing beyond that. There will be consequences, but let’s make them effective in helping students grow.”

FULL STORY

Camden County Police Encouraged by Early Results of Crime Tips App

CAMDEN, NJ, May 29, 2019 (TAPinto) – The Camden County Police Department in April unveiled its participation in the STOPit App, offering citizens a way to anonymously report crimes or provide tips through their smartphone.

Just over a month later, the police department in New Jersey has shared early results in its ongoing effort to build participation.

The CCPD received more than 200 tips through the STOPit system, with 320 activations in the short timeframe, Lt. Zsakhiem James said Thursday.

Tips sent in via the traditional anonymous call line are not counted whereas “the app measures the metrics,” James said.

“We’re encouraged by the number of tips,” said James, who noted an additional 15 activations and counting Friday morning as word continues to spread. 

James said the format of the app has proved to be helpful. While residents can utilize the police tip line or connect through various social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor), the STOPit system’s shielding of identity can be the difference in reaching out.

“There is some strength to it being anonymous,” he said. “It seems to be taking off.”

Members of the public have responded through the app’s messaging feature, too. It’s dependent on the specific situation, James said, but when needed, the anonymous chat has allowed for police personnel to gather further information about a tip. 

“If you have a friend or know someone who could use this, have them download it,” James said. “The one thing we want is conversation.”

FULL STORY

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