Before placing his iconic signature on the Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Hancock turned to his fellow Continental Congress delegates and remarked, “There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together.”
“Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin replied. “Or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
One of history’s great wits nested a profound point in his gallows humor: It takes unity and common purpose to stand up to a powerful aggressor. It’s as true of fighting the mighty British Army as it is a clique of cyberbullies, bigotry in the office, or sexual harassment by a superior at work.
As we celebrate our nation’s birth this weekend, let’s also consider how we can encourage those in our schools, workplaces and communities to “hang together” with victims of injustice and maltreatment. Sometimes, the weight of confronting their problems is too much to bear on their own.
“Look at the traditional motto of the United States, ‘E pluribus unum – Latin for ‘out of many, one’ — and how relevant its meaning is for us during these trying times,” said Melissa Straub, founder of High Impact Youth Training Solutions, which provides educational training and guidance on issues directly affecting youth, schools, and communities. “One person can truly make an impact and encourage, if not implement, positive change or momentum. One act of kindness, courage, empathy and standing up can change a person’s situation and perception in that moment.”
Anonymous reporting can be a powerful agent for such change. There are any number of reasons why a witness to bullying or harassment won’t stand up for the victim on the spot. Fear of retaliation, of being labeled a snitch, of getting involved in a dispute between strangers, these can all be potent deterrents. That doesn’t mean the witness doesn’t want to help. STOPit offers them a way to pass on important information to trusted authorities and make the situation better – without worrisome barriers.
“We all need to be part of the change, part of the solution and be accountable to each other’s wellbeing,” Straub said. “Reporting is a way to be heard, a voice not to fall on deaf ears, and has proven to make a difference.”
Such was the case when a student used STOPit to let her school know she was worried about a friend who was having problems at home, was cutting herself and sharing suicidal thoughts. The school received the report and informed law enforcement, who performed a health check on the student. It was determined that she needed help and she immediately began receiving counseling.
Of course, the mix of mental health issues combined with access to weapons has been a formula for repeated tragedy in the U.S. Many districts have adopted STOPit as an extra safety layer in their strategies to prevent school shootings. It may have already saved lives.
Recently a student riding the bus to school spotted a weapon in another student’s backpack. The alert rider submitted a report which was fielded by STOPit’s 24/7 Incident Monitoring Service professionals, who rapidly notified the district. School officials met the bus as it pulled in, escorted the student off and seized the weapon before it ever entered the school.
Police agencies are also using STOPit as means to enlist the eyes and ears of upstanders in their communities. Anonymous tips delivered with photo and video evidence have solved crimes in places like Camden, New Jersey – a city which gained national recognition during the George Floyd protests for improving relations between its police and citizenry to reduce crime.
“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 about STOPit.
This Independence Day, let’s all take a moment to think about our interdependence. By standing up for each other, we not only help another person, we also protect and promote our own liberty and freedoms – doing our part to build a safer, more inclusive community for all.
Contact STOPit Solutions today to learn how anonymous reporting can encourage upstanders in your community, workplace or school.