Everyone has seen a picture of an iceberg showing only the tip of the iceberg actually visible above water and the majority underwater.
Prevention is sort of like an iceberg because the majority of actions that must be taken with regard to preventing incidents are not visible to most people. For example, if you work at a financial organization and you are striving to prevent fraud and the expensive consequences of fraud, or if you work for an educational institution and you are striving to prevent bullying and the expensive consequences of bullying, the biggest risks, consequences and costs are not always visible at first, but they cannot be ignored either.
Lessons learned show us if you focus only on the tip of the iceberg you are making a big mistake because you are missing the most dangerous risks and challenges that could cause the most embarrassing and most expensive costs to your organization or your educational institution.
Lessons learned also show us knee-jerk reacts to the tip of the iceberg can lead to BIG failures (Titanic, RSA, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Suicides, Lawsuits, etc.). And we also know knee-jerk reactions seldom turn out to be the best overall or long-term solution and hardly ever address the core of more serious risks and threats.
To give you an example, immediately after the Virginia Tech tragedy, a massive number of organizational leaders reacted to the tragic situation by rushing out to purchase mass notification systems. Mass notification systems might be helpful for “reacting” once you have rammed into the “iceberg” (tragedy, incident, lawsuit, etc.), but lessons learned clearly reveal most tragedies and incidents were preventable. To prevent, organizations need the right tools to get the right information to the right people in the right places at the right time so appropriate individuals could have done the right things so no mass notification was necessary.
Recent knee-jerk reactions include those related to mounting fraud in the financial sector, escalating bullying (and other alarming student safety trends) in the educational sector, as well as many other dangerous trends affecting several other sectors around the world.
In the financial sector, financial leaders are purchasing one-size-fits-all solutions that will hopefully notify them once their customer’s money has been fraudulently stolen. In the education sector, school leaders are purchasing one-size-fits-all incident reporting solutions and hoping students, teachers, staff and parents will use them. However, it is important to note that one-size-fits-all solutions like these offer little to no tools for preventing these incidents and preventing the escalating and expensive consequences related to fraud, bullying and many other alarming risks and trends.
When it comes to fraud and bullying and many other risks, remember there are numerous risks, threats, challenges and consequences that may not be visible, so make sure you have the right tools to obtain the right information so you and others in your organization can do the right things to prevent the preventable.
“Talking” about Doing the Right Thing is not the same as “Doing” the Right Thing.
Lots of news stories, government folks, celebrities and experts talk about doing the right thing. Lots of “talk” appears on websites and in blogs, books, programs and laws. But “Doing the Right Thing” requires taking action and more specifically taking proactive prevention-focused actions.
Facts and lessons learned clearly show us that most incidents, tragedies, suicides and headlines were preventable. So why are people not taking proactive and preventative actions and not doing the right things?
I had an idea for this blog a couple weeks ago and then I heard this scripture reading and I knew the blog was right on target and releasing the blog was the right thing to do. The scripture reading included the following:
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Facts and lessons learned also show us words (laws, policies, procedures, checklists, general training, etc.) and speeches are not preventing preventable incidents from occurring. Facts and lessons learned also reveal there are huge gaps with youth and with adults – awareness gaps, accountability gaps and tools gaps. Based on these facts and lessons learned, it is crystal clear organizations and educational institutions must take immediate actions to empower youth and adults with situational awareness, with accountability and with the right tools to “Do the Right Things”.
If you would like to see a demonstration a “Prevention Platform” that schools, colleges, government and financial institutions are using, take action and visit http://www.tipsprevent.com.
Business Insurance reported that Penn State University’s expenses in response to the alleged child abuse by former assistant football coach Gerald Sandusky are mounting. A Penn State statement said they are paying nearly $2.5 million for the services of two public relations firms.
The communication firms aim to work with Penn State’s public information officers to provide broad and transparent communications to key stakeholders and support the university through upcoming litigation, according to the statement. “Retaining these communications firms puts us more firmly on the path toward accountability, openness and preserving our reputation as one of the world’s leading research universities,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in the statement.
As of Feb 29, Penn State has spent $7,577,643 in legal fees and consulting fees and the legal cases are just getting started.
The majority of the incidents and liabilities at Penn State could have been prevented had PSU invested in a “prevention platform” that would have equipped victims, coaches, supervisors, administration, legal, law enforcement with prevention tools rather than crisis response and other reactive approaches.
In a recent blog I shared how the Virginia Tech tragedy (also preventable according to Virginia Tech Review Panel Report) has cost VT and taxpayers $48.5 MILLION.
“Prevention platforms” cost your bottom line a whole lot less, they help protect reputations and they save lives. Does your organization have a Prevention Plan (to complement your Crisis Response Plan), a Prevention Team (to complement your Incident Response Team) and a Prevention Platform? If you want to be proactive and prevention focused, click here.
Did you see the recent report from the Center for American Progress? The report estimates that the Virginia Tech tragedy cost the university and taxpayers $ 48.2 million. And this cost does not include the “costs” associated with the loss of lives and lives that were changed forever.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I hope all school and university administrators are paying close attention to this wisdom and this new report.
According to the report, the university was responsible for most of the costs – $ 38.77 million – and the state of Virginia paid around $ 8.87 million and rest was covered by local government and the federal government in the form of grants.
How the $48.2 million breaks down is shown in this Campus Safety article.
Today is the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre that resulted in 32 deaths and another 25 wounded. According to the Virginia Tech Review Panel report (which cost $ 465,000), this tragedy could have been prevented and the report provided nearly 100 recommendations for university leaders to implement.
So why do we continue to see incidents, headlines and tragedies in schools and universities?
The facts are pretty clear that most schools and universities are still very “reaction focused”. Most schools and universities have Crisis Plans and Emergency Response Plans, but few have a Prevention Plan. Most schools and universities rushed out to purchase Mass Notification Systems after the VT tragedy, but few schools and universities invested in Prevention platforms to equip their students, faculty, staff, Safety Teams, law enforcement, legal, compliance and community resources with tools to “connect-the-dots, silos, red flags and suspicious actions” or the tools to get the right information to the right people in the right place at the right time so the right people can do the right things, which is the most efficient and cost effective way to intervene and prevent expensive and embarrassing tragedies.
To learn more about Awareity’s innovative and proven Prevention platforms and tools, click here.
If you missed part one of this blog, please click here for teachable moments and bullying laws…
Now that you have reviewed Part 1, my other concern with this story involves communities and their taxpayers. Is the complaint by school administrators and this vote by the Council on Local Mandates putting communities and taxpayers in a more vulnerable situation with even more liabilities and costs?
Do these school administrators know what happens when a school does not take appropriate actions by equipping everyone to report incidents, investigating all reports, intervening, preventing a hostile environment and documenting their actions? Are the Council on Local Mandates and the school administrators for the school districts in Bergen County aware of multiple OCR Dear Colleague Letters that were sent to all schools?
All school administrators could benefit from takking a few minutes to review an Executive Briefing on the Federal Investigation of a school district in California that did not follow OCR Dear Colleague Letter mandates, click here to request your copy.
I also wonder if these school administrators realize that a New Jersey school district within the same Bergen County (Emerson Board of Education) recently paid $130,000 in a settlement of a lawsuit because the school failed to take appropriate actions to intervene and prevent bullying targeted at a student? The NJ Attorney General said this about the school:
“There is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion that these incidents of bullying were either ignored or improperly handled by Respondent.”
And I wonder if NJ school administrators are aware there are two more similar lawsuits pending against New Jersey school districts in which students claimed administrators ignored their reports of bullying?
As I mentioned in Part 1, I am passionate about student safety and because of my passion I bring attention to these stories to help school administrators take actions before it’s too late for even one at-risk student. I like sharing successes from other school leaders who are reforming status quo, reducing costs and improving student safety and I was honored to receive the Risk Innovator Award for Education from Risk & Insurance Magazine and the Responsibility Leader Award too.
Give me a call at 402.730.0090 as I am confident we can help you too!
A recent news story involving the NJ Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the Council on Local Mandates and a school district in Warren County in New Jersey caught my attention. After reviewing related articles, are New Jersey school administrators missing out on a significant teachable opportunity?
The Council on Local Mandates voted 7-2 that the New Jersey state law regarding anti-bullying must be amended because it includes an unfunded mandate for local school districts. Is this really the message school administrators want to send to their students about doing the right thing? Are these school leaders saying student safety and anti-bullying issues are not going to be addressed unless they get more funding?
The school district said that it would cost them $6,000 to train educators – with more costs in the future. Apparently the administration of this school district would be using status quo training approaches, because $6,000 is very expensive. Status quo mass training approaches are clearly not helping school administrators prevent bullying, as alarming incidents continue to mount around the globe.
In another related article, school administrators said the law is creating more paperwork, investigations and meetings.
The NJ Anti-Bullying law does not create more paperwork, more investigations or more meetings…the status quo approaches do. The NJ law provides school leaders with guidance and a blueprint they can use to prevent bullying and related consequences more effectively.
Unfortunately, these NJ school administrators missed a great opportunity to use the new anti-bullying law to create teachable moment in innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, wouldn’t it make more sense for school administrators to gather ideas for reforming expensive, status quo, labor-intensive, paper-based and ineffective 20th century approaches? Or school administrators could have explored success stories from innovative school leaders that could help reduce costs and equip their school to prevent bullying?
I have always been very passionate about student safety, and without a “funded mandate” we began studying failures and lessons learned, and then began developing tools to eliminate those gaps and disconnects that were showing up in schools over and over and over. I am proud to say we are helping schools save lives, save money, save time, save reputations and save resources and we did it without a “funded mandate”.
We also compiled the results of our research so we can share our findings with school administrators that do not have the time and resources to do their own research. If you would to review one of our executive briefings from our research, click here.
With the recent passing of football coach, Joe Paterno, Joe he can now rest in peace knowing he touched the lives of many as a coach at Penn State for 62 of his 85 years on this planet.
The horrific scandal at Penn State University will no doubt have an effect on the legacy of JoePa (his nickname suggesting his fatherly quality to his players and students too), some will judge JoePa based on what they know and others will judge JoePa based on what they don’t know.
For me, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Joe Paterno for his foresight and humility to do an interview with the Washington Post before he passed away. You see this interview could and should become one of the most valuable lessons learned for college leaders and organizational leaders around the world. JoePa shared how he felt inadequate to handle the situation that was brought to his attention:
“I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” Paterno told the Washington Post in an interview published Saturday. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”
“I called my superiors and I said, ‘hey, we got a problem I think. Would you guys look into it? Because I didn’t know, you know … I had never had to deal with something like that. And I didn’t feel adequate,”
So what lessons learned did Joe Paterno’s interview provide?
First, if Joe Paterno worked at a college over 60 years and was not clear on university procedures and felt inadequate to do the right thing…how many people in your organization feel inadequate? Have you equipped everyone to do the right thing? This is a significant lesson learned that exposes how 20th century tools (binders, handbooks, annual training, intranets, etc.) can leave your people feeling inadequate and ill-equipped to do right thing as 21st century challenges, risks and situations are changing continuously and the consequences of not doing the right thing can be devastating.
Second, Joe Paterno also revealed in an interview: “In hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
College leaders, school leaders and organizational leaders must take immediate and proactive steps to equip their people with 21st century tools to ensure no one feels inadequate, but is equipped to take appropriate actions. No one wants the burden of wishing they had done more when it comes to helping a child, a friend, an employee or anyone in their community.
Click here to learn more about proven and award-winning 21st century tools.
When it comes to anti-bullying efforts, most seem to be in agreement that we need to do something about bullying. It is everyone’s moral obligation to lookout for the safety of students and do the right thing. However, in New Jersey, there is a debate on new legislation and school requirements.
On November 1, 2011, the Executive Director at New Jersey Association of School Administrators, Mr. Richard Bozza, submitted an ‘Opinion’ piece discussing the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights that started by saying, “THERE’S NO question about it. We need to do something about bullying.”
Mr. Bozza’s opinion also stated the unfunded mandate requires schools to meet a long list of requirements. Mr. Bozza’s opinion referenced several concerns with implementing the law including an 18-page compliance checklist, paperwork, reviews and legal expenses.
On November 8, 2011, Mr. Stuart Green from the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying submitted his counter ‘Opinion’ saying. “Addressing bullying is not a matter of money. It is a moral obligation.”
WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT BULLYING…SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
The solution begins with equipping everyone with the right tools they need to prevent bullying. Schools need innovative tools and platforms that replace inefficient, ineffective and expensive status quo approaches that Mr. Bozza describes.
For example, traditional training approaches are expensive and time consuming. However, innovative web-based tools cost MANY TIMES LESS than the expenses schools are incurring with paper handouts, trainers, facilities, overtime and lost productivity costs.
Yes, paperwork costs are expensive, so why are schools creating more paperwork these days?? Innovative platforms eliminate paperwork and improve efficiencies and improve results.
Yes, legal fees are expensive, but anti-bullying policies are needed with or without the law, so WHY wouldn’t the New Jersey Association of School Administrators provide templates with customization guidance to their members??
Delays from scheduled school vacations, staff vacations and police involvement…once again the status quo approaches Mr. Bozza refers to are inefficient, ineffective and expensive. Innovative tools empower School Safety Team members to securely login from anywhere and review incidents as needed without delays. Innovative tools enable School Safety Teams to easily document actions, investigations, prevention efforts, follow up efforts and review previous incidents saving tremendous amounts of time, resources and money compared to traditional approaches.
The steps in the 18-page checklist Mr. Bozza mentions should already be taking place in schools, however an innovative platform of tools can equip school personnel to save time, money and resources.
The bottom line is that schools are spending too much time, resources and money on traditional approaches that lessons learned clearly show are not working. Schools can both reduce their costs and “do something about bullying”. I expect more from leaders, because alibis do not save lives…or money.
Two high profile incidents this week revealed that despite updates to the Clery Act and Title IX requirements, campuses continue to struggle to proactively identify warning signs and red flags and gather information and reports from their people (students, staff, faculty, law enforcement, counselors, etc.).
Penn State – Lawmakers are investigating whether Penn State violated the Clery Act when it did not report child sexual abuse allegations regarding a former football coach to the proper authorities. Several coaches were aware of the allegations, but did not report to the police.
University of Idaho - University of Idaho officials say at least one police officer knew of alleged gun threats against a graduate student before she was shot and killed by a professor she had been dating. The student had complained to the university in June that professor Ernesto Bustamante had threatened her with a firearm three separate times during the relationship.
It is critical for institutions to connect the dots across all individuals and threat team members (students, staff, faculty, counselors, law enforcement, parents, etc.) ongoing and ensure that all threats, risks, warning signs, etc. are reported to the appropriate personnel and investigated thoroughly to determine the appropriate level of response. Too many times, we see after the fact the warning flags and reports that existed, but that were not connected.
Comprehensive threat assessment and behavioral intervention programs need to extend across the entire campus community (faculty and staff, as well as students). If TAT/BIT teams can be notified immediately at the first sign of violence, aggression, threat, etc., and have the tools necessary to connect the dots across campuses, locations, departments, etc., many of these tragedies may be able to be prevented.
I think one of the biggest challenges that may have been a factor in each of these incidents is a lack of clear procedure and policy on reporting incidents. Higher education institutions must clearly define individual responsibilities for reporting illegal activities, suspicious behaviors, red flags, threats, etc. and ensure that all individuals involved understand their roles and requirements (and the consequences for a failure to report).
To learn more about how your institution can help your campus community come together and develop a culture of prevention, please click here.
I saw a discussion last week that was asking for input on ways to reduce employee risk. Most of the responses offered a technology solution…which is interesting considering most studies and trends show employee risks and weaknesses are getting worse and more alarming even though organizations have spent thousands, millions and billions on technology solutions. Does this seem weird to you?
One of the responses from one of the participants caught my attention when they said “it is difficult to patch a user”.
Interesting comment and I responded by saying it is NOT THAT DIFFICULT to patch users/employees….IF you are using the right resources.
For example, you wouldn’t get very good results trying to watch HDTV (21st century) on a black and white analog TV (20th century). Like the TV analogy, organizations are not getting good results trying to “patch their users” using 20th century resources.
Organizations can “patch and validate” a user’s awareness, ensure a user’s accountability and help user’s with adaptability…but this cannot be accomplished using 20th century user solutions like binders, intranets, shared drives, memos, e-mails, spreadsheets, once-a-year general training, etc.
Numerous studies involving hundreds and hundreds of lessons learned and incidents clearly reveal that 20th century user approaches are inefficient and ineffective, period.
As a matter of fact, most organizations are wasting lots of time, lots of money and lots of valuable resources trying to make these old 20th century resources address user/employee risks.
Did you know proven 21st century resources actually exist for “patching users” with situational awareness, accountability, adaptability, measurability, auditability and more?
With the right user/employee focused resources, organizations can help and ensure all appropriate users understand why, how, when, what, what happens if I do, etc. Organizations can also reduce their costs, improve their results and ensure adaptability in a continuously changing world.
Attention all organizational leaders…this is a lesson learned and a valuable tip you should look into!