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

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

And the prevalence of sexual assault can be shocking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I Ask” for “Awareness to Action”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

RAAIN

NO MORE

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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

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

School System Rolls Out New STOPit App Aimed at Protecting Students

Whether its Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or Twitter, almost every teen is a member of one or more social media platforms, and most kids beginning as early as elementary school have a wide range of resources at the devices and gadgets beneath their fingertips.

Page County students now have one more ― a new smartphone app that allows the anonymous reporting of bullying and harassment.

Through “STOPit” students and parents discretely report incidents ranging from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

“STOPit empowers students to stand up for themselves and others while giving our schools the insight we need to keep students safe,” the local school system said in a news release last week.

Last month Page County Public Schools began rolling out the new program for students in third through 12th grades. With STOPit, they can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos and/or videos. For instance students can screenshot online interactions, snap a photo or video of an incident or simply report it via text.

School administrators then manage incidents on a case-by-case basis. Reports that are flagged as urgent through a management system also head to the school board office in Luray.

“It’s a helpful way of being let into the social dynamics of students,” said John Van Wyck, director of student services for the local school system.

In the instance of a reported incident school officials first determine if it was possibly a crime. To help determine if an incident is considered bullying, they follow a national model ― was there aggression? was there dominance? was there persistence?

School officials then determine if the incident needs to be investigated.

“It’s a due process,” said Van Wyck. “But it has to be an issue related to the school or the bus ― something that potentially causes a school disruption.”

The Page County School Board last fall began discussing the app before opting into the $3,500-a-year program and rolling it out last month. Students and parents at each school are given a specific code in order to access STOPit. Reports submitted after school or on the weekends are monitored by STOPit Solutions staff, who then contact local authorities in emergent situations.

“It’s another tool for our tool kit,” said Superintendent for Page County Public Schools Wendy Gonzalez. “So far, it’s just been really positive.”

“If somebody’s feeling bullied, if somebody’s feeling threatened ― that’s all that matters,” said Van Wyck. “If [STOPit] helps in just a couple incidents, it’s worth it.”

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

Moms Empower Bystanders To Become Upstanders with Technology:

STOPit Joins Experts for Podcast On Bullying in Schools

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

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

WJCT is a local affiliate of NPR Radio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bryna R.: Good morning.

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

Neil Hooper: Hi Melissa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There IS a solution.

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

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

LPS Incorporating STOPit App to Keep Schools Safe

LAWTON, OK (TNN) – Lawton Public Schools are now using an app they hope can increase safety on their campuses.

The STOPit app allows students and parents to anonymously report several types of threats to the Lawton Public Schools Police Department. Reports are similar to text messages, and can also include pictures and video.

“They just go to the app store, download the STOPit app, and then there’s an access code that is assigned to them,” said Pam Brisolara, Lawton PTA Council president. “So, if they have something that they want to report or something that they feel like is dangerous, then they just go to that app and then they download the access, go to the access point, and then they can just text anything they want to text.”

Once a report is sent in, LPS police are able to message back to gather more information and investigate the report.

“A lot of times bullying doesn’t get reported,” said David Hornbeck, chief of police for the Lawton Public School Police Department. “That’s one thing we’re doing with the STOPit app. We’re allowing another avenue for these kids to report that type of activity if it’s happening.”

Students and parents can report more than just bullying.

“You also can report drug activity, inappropriate behavior that’s happening on school campuses, tobacco on school campuses. Any issues law enforcement related or policy violation related can be reported on the STOPit app,” said Chief Hornbeck. “Any time we receive a tip on there it will be addressed and looked into.”

Chief Hornbeck said the STOPit app also helps his department screen reports and assign them to the proper authority or school official to get resolved.

“Every tip that comes in is evaluated, and the first thing we want to do is discover is this of a criminal nature? If it is, then of course we’re going to take it and investigate it to the fullest,” said Chief Hornbeck. “If it’s not of a criminal nature, if it’s a policy violation or something along that line, it will give us an opportunity to hand that off to somebody in the district staff who’s more capable of taking care of that.”

The app was introduced to all Lawton Public Schools in February, and since then there has only been one bullying report. However, the LPS Police Department expects more reports once the word gets out about the app.

“I just feel like somehow or another there’s got to be something we can do to help the kids before it gets to that point,” said Brisolara. “So, that’s the good thing about this app is that it’s proactive and not reactive. So, we can catch it before something happens, hopefully.”

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Page County to Use Anti-Bullying App in Schools

PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Page County Public Schools has started to enroll students in the “STOPit” App as a way to let students report bullying or any other incident anonymously through their smartphones.

Other school systems in the valley have already been using the app, including Augusta County Public Schools and Waynesboro Public Schools.

Page County School officials said they wanted this app to help report anything a student might find alarming.

“Students can anonymously report anything they see that might have to do with bullying or harassment,” John Van Wyck, director of student services at Page County Public Schools, said. “Really they can report anything from threats to oneself or threats to others they might hear about.”

School officials said the app is easy for students to use — all they have to do it download it with an access code, and then they can report.

One school system that has been using the app this year said it’s helped report incidents the schools don’t normally hear about.

“We’re getting situations that happen on social media and in the community that usually we don’t get into because it’s not school related,” said Douglas Shifflett, assistant superintendent of Augusta County Public Schools. “At least we know these things are happening, and we can hand it over to the correct person who can assist with it.”

Page County Public Schools said all schools in the district will have access to the app later this week.

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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.

‘STOPit’ App Allows Anonymous Reporting of School, Workplace Bullying

EDISON – A smartphone app developed by a New Jersey-based company allows anonymous reporting of bullying and harassment at school and the workplace.

The “STOPit” app allows people a discrete way of reporting bullying, suicidal thoughts or safety issues. It was developed primarily for schools, but has also found its way into the workplace.

“It’s a simple, fast and powerful way for a student in distress to reach out for help,” says STOPit Solutions president Parkhill Mays.

People report the abuse through the app, and a message is sent to school administrators or a company’s human resources department.

“Someone who can then follow up with them through an anonymous messaging platform, send them resources and get them the help they need right there through a platform and device they’re very familiar using every day,” says STOPit manager Johnathan Holmok.

More than 3,400 schools in New Jersey and across the United States have signed up for the app, as well as 180 companies. Some law enforcement departments are also involved.

Company officials say that the goal of the app is to allow people to come forward with things that they might not have otherwise reported.

More information about the app can be found on the company’s website.

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Spirit of the Buffalo: STOPit App Helps Report Bullying

McAlester Public Schools is now using the STOPit app, which allows students to anonymously report incidents to the office via text. Students are encouraged to report anything of concern from bullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

Many times a parent will call the school with a concern informing me of a situation that is going on at their child’s school. The first question I ask is, “Have you talked to the principal?” Why do I ask the parent this question? I am not at each of the schools to know what is going on and I know that there are always two sides to every situation. The number of times I have been told by parents that their child is being bullied and no one will do anything about it is astronomical.

When I ask the parent if they have talked to the principal, the answer is typically no. How can a principal be expected to take care of a bullying allegation when no one has reported it directly to them? As the Superintendent, I wanted to find a way to better address these concerns.

The introduction of the STOPit app will provide our district with an additional resource to help. Students and parents are able to report any incidents or problems that happen at their school anonymously. McAlester Public Schools wants to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to dealing with inappropriate behavior that could lead to otherwise avoidable issues.

When students are comfortable sharing information with teachers, staff, and principals, we then get the information we need to maintain a positive school climate. We work daily to provide students with resources and information that they need to help them academically, physically, and emotionally. Incorporating the STOPit app will give us the ability to address issues early on before a serious situation could occur.

Each school site Pre-K through 12, will provide directions to their parents with information about the app and the passcode for the school. Puterbaugh Middle School is the only site so far to fully implement the STOPit program with their students.

Puterbaugh has been using the app for a little over a month now and have received 36 reports. Visiting with the principal, they have verified that some of the incident reports have been middle school students joking around and trying to be funny, but there have been a couple of valid incident reports. The principals were thankful to be able to handle the situations that were reported and are seeing some very positive results from using the STOPit app. STOPit will be fully implemented across the district.

Parents and students can now download the free app on iPhone and Android. Each school site will have their own ID to allow reporting anonymously. Students will be given the information for them to use and the elementary schools will send the information home to parents.

We hope that the implementation of the STOPit app will provide one additional level of security for our students and staff. You can find more information about the app on our school website: www.mcalester.k12.ok.us.

Full Story

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.

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