Another great interview! This time Rick speaks with Scott Schumacher, Principal of St. Peters Lutheran School in Columbus, Indiana. Scott is a true leader who is dedicated to building trust and forming strong relationships with his students and staff in order to keep his school safe.
Below is a quick excerpt from the interview. Click here to listen to the full conversation and learn some valuable insights from Scott!
Why did your school see a need for an anonymous incident reporting system?
Over the years, we know that our school like every school has had some instances where students have bullied others. We are very fortunate at our school as the numbers have gone down dramatically, but situations do still happen. The state of Indiana does have some pretty stringent reporting requirements and we recognized that we didn’t have a good system of reporting it, besides anecdotal note-taking and of what happened, we keep that information, but to really have a formal system is something we desired. And to also give people the opportunity to report things anonymously. When we ask people about what is or is not going on, maybe they aren’t quite as honest as they would be if they had an anonymous form to file a report.
One thing that happened that really pushed us in the direction of TIPS was a website in town, basically the town gossip site. On the website, people can report complaints about anything, public or private organizations, and our school was criticized for bullying incidents. Some of the reports made on that site, there was just no validation and we weren’t aware of them. In order to defend ourselves, if we could have a real organized system of reporting bullying, that would be a great component.
One of the other things you mentioned is the documentation you had before. We have seen over and over in post-incident reports is that the information might have been there, but it was on paper or in a silo, and it can be difficult to connect the dots.
Yes, that effort to connect the dots is really important, between teachers, our counselors and myself. Something might be reported to me and they don’t know about it, so the ability to go into TIPS and file a report there and the appropriate receives an e-mail. It has been really helpful. Also the accountability that requires you to actually act on it and have a concluding statement rather you pursue it or dismiss it, there has to be resolutions of some sort. This is really important, with previous incidents we may have written something down, but with TIPS we have a defined procedure to investigate and close an incident or keep it open if needed.
To listen to the rest of this interview, please visit the link below.
Rick recently sat down with Ankeny Community School’s Safety and Security Manager, Chad Bentzinger, to learn more about their school safety efforts and use of TIPS. We are definitely impressed with Ankeny’s leadership and their dedication to keeping their students safe!
Below is a quick excerpt from the interview. Click here to listen to the rest of Chad’s experiences.
Why did you see a need for the TIPS prevention platform?
For us it was a two-pronged approach. Understanding the districts in our area have had to deal with students who have committed suicide and the post effects, we looked at what we can do to prevent those things from happening. We need to allow students a way or opportunity to report what they are feeling or what is going on in their life. When interviewing students, bullying is such a big thing. When we speak and ask why they didn’t say something, the response is either they didn’t know how, they didn’t know who to tell, they didn’t feel comfortable, or maybe even they felt like they have shared the information, or reported it informally, but nothing was done about it.
For us it was important to find a system that we could incorporate, that was easy to use, that was easy for students, and was anonymous for those students who are uncomfortable or don’t want to tell on somebody else. No matter what was in that report we are still gaining a temperature and understanding of what is going on. Hopefully there is enough information in the report to go forward and prevent something or intervene before something bad happens or someone hurts themselves. That was our main reason for the platform from Awareity.
One of the things you pointed out, and we have seen this in our Student Surveys as well, students, and even teachers and parents, have so much information they are aware of, but they need the tools to tell us, or even if they have told someone before, how do we get that information to the right people? I applaud you for doing the research and interviewing your students to find out why they didn’t tell you or if they did.
How did you announce TIPS to your school and community?
I had the same question, and Katie with Awareity really helped out a lot in supporting us and assisting us with marketing tools and ideas, and how we might communicate TIPS verbally to our students and staff. We approached TIPS mid-year in the school year, so students were already in their way and groups, so we needed to find a way to interject it. We felt a soft roll-out was appropriate and will do a more hard-roll out at the beginning of the following year.
We first hand had to get all of our staff trained so they were fully aware of what we were trying to accomplish, what this was going to be used for and how they could direct students and community to use the tool. After that we put together some marketing materials, some business cards with website and hotline number. We have a slogan from our anti-bullying task force, voted on by the students, “We Don’t Do That Here”. We got behind that slogan and put that on our marketing tools as well and used it to connect with the student body. Our production classes put together videos that were shared during advisement, our elementary school staff spoke to students in the classroom. We also sent out a hard letter and a blackboard message to parents. The most important piece was what it is, how to use it, what to use it for, and what they can expect after they report. We felt those were the key components to get TIPS out there and make it successful.
What type of feedback have you received from administrators?
Feedback started coming in even when we were just introducing the platform, and once they started receiving reports. Students were not feeling like there was resolution to what they report. When you get a TIPS report now, you login to the secure website and review the report, acknowledge it, time-stamp it. They are able to then take that and involve their core members, counselors, report liaisons, SROS, incorporate those key members to make sure there is resolution and conclusion to the situation. It helps guide them. The report doesn’t allow for miscellaneous information that is not useful, it guides the person making the report to provide correct, pertinent information so there is appropriate follow-up. That was a big key for administration. In today’s world you have to have those checks and balances. I was concerned that whatever we chose as a platform had to have the ability to prevent one of those reports where a student slips through the cracks and we let someone down. The TIPS platform ensures that does not happen.
What about students?
Students seeing, not necessarily the discipline, but just knowing there is closure. Whatever anxiety or negative effects they were feeling or experiencing. For them to have the confidence that it was resolved and they can come back to school and not have to worry about that particular situation, for us that is a huge success. It allows administrators to keep a firm grasp on everything that is happening in their building.
Most everyone has heard of the Boiling Frog Syndrome….
When a frog is dropped in boiling water it will jump out…but when a frog is placed in cold water that is gradually heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be ‘cooked to death’.
The same is true for Schools and Colleges (and other organizations too) failing to recognize the impact of a gradual rise in risks, threats, incidents, headlines, settlements and tragedies.
As student safety incidents and tragedies become more common in the headlines, several common excuses from School Officials and College Officials indicate many may not be perceiving the increasing dangers:
“We are just maintaining at the moment.”
“We are not seeing any bullying problems at our school.”
“We don’t have a sexual assault problem at our college.”
“We are too busy to look at something new right now.”
“Our staff and school officials are already overwhelmed right now.”
Do you see what I mean? Can you feel the temperature rising??
Most school officials are failing to notice the “rising temperature” of bullying and are shocked to find out 85% of their students are experiencing or witnessing bullying? (2013 Student Safety Report)
55 colleges are currently under federal investigation for failing to recognize the “rising temperature” of sexual assaults on their campuses. (Department of Education press release)
We are too busy? Surely School Officials are not too busy for Student Safety and saving a student’s life? This excuse demonstrates just how real the boiling frog syndrome has become and shows how school officials and college officials are “frantically swimming around as more and more hot air bubbles appear”…which is what happens just before the water starts boiling and the frog gets cooked.
When it comes to the Prevention Gapidemic and the Boiling Frog Syndrome, perhaps the worst excuse of all is:
Evidence-based data clearly reveals the best way to “save your budget” is to PREVENT rather than REACT.
Schools and Colleges are currently spending millions and millions on REACTING. Security alarms, cameras, special locks, special doors, special walls, special rooms, active shooter response training, etc. However, for a fraction of their security budget spent on REACTIVE products and services, organizations could buy a next generation prevention platform and start PREVENTING.
For example, for the cost of a couple cameras (cameras prevent little to nothing as they only record what already happened), a next generation prevention platform would have equipped every student and adult (students and adults are walking talking cameras, but only if you plug them in so they can report what they see and hear) to report pre-incident indicators so the right people with the right tools can PROACTIVELY PREVENT. (You can see several prevention success stories here)
Another example involves two schools that are about the same size. One boasts about spending $20,000,000 on new security products and systems and another spent less than $10,000 on a next generation prevention platform. The school that spent $20M is loaded up on REACTING to threats at their door and the other school has proactively prevented multiple student safety related incidents and tragedies including a targeted shooting, suicides, violence, bullying and more.
Evidence also reveals that Schools and Colleges will reduce their “operational costs” too because a next generation prevention platform allows them to eliminate status meetings, make intervention meetings more effective, eliminate paper-based and spreadsheet-based processes, reduce time spent on investigations and information sharing, reduce errors and duplicated efforts, automate documentation, make sure at-risk kids don’t fall through the cracks and more. http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/13/living/bullying-frustrated-parents-video/index.html?hpt=hp_c3
Even the old axiom from Ben Franklin – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” reveals the best way to save money, time, resources and lives is PREVENTION.
After an incident or tragedy, when schools, colleges, organizations and communities add up the costs of REACTING, they learn the hard way their costs (hard costs, soft costs, emotional costs, short-term costs, long-term costs, etc.) to respond to reputational damages, lawsuits, loss of life, loss of assets, audits, resolution agreements and many other knee-jerk reactions were very expensive. And almost every post-event report reveals the incident or tragedy was preventable – which means those very expensive costs could have been prevented and their budget saved.
After all the lessons learned and cooked frogs, no School or College Official should ever use “we have no budget” as an excuse when it comes to student safety.
IF old school advice and hundreds and hundreds of stop bullying programs/curriculums were the solution – why would the CDC cite bullying and suicide as a significant public health problem?
IF old school advice and stop bullying programs/curriculums were the solution, why would a 2013 Student Survey of nearly 4,500 students in schools across 19 states reveal that 85% of students witness/experience bullying in their schools?
IF millions and millions of dollars spent on security products was the solution – shouldn’t campus and community violence prevention be millions of times better?
Do school/college leaders believe they can afford and implement security systems like Ft. Hood and the Navy Yard? Even their maximum security efforts did not prevent preventable violence.
IF all of the stop sexual assault organizations, PSAs and related programs were the total solution – shouldn’t sexual assaults be decreasing and prevention efforts improving?
Unfortunately these are the facts:
IF incident reporting systems (which have been around for generations) were the solution for preventing incidents and tragedies – why are so many incidents and tragedies still occurring, even when they had incident reports and pre-incident indicators?
IF passing laws and creating policies were the solution – why aren’t the laws and policies that have been around for generations making things better?
Evidence-based data reveals dangerous gaps…and answers too!
(When you research hundreds and hundreds of post-event reports like we do here at Awareity, the data reveals the right solutions and the right tools to eliminate these dangerous gaps and disconnects.)
Evidence-based data from post-event reports clearly reveals why schools, colleges, organizations and communities are failing to prevent preventable incidents, headlines and tragedies.
For example, most organizations believe because they purchased anti-bullying programs programs, spent thousands/millions on security products, offered assemblies, implemented an incident reporting system and/or case management system and created anti-bullying policies they are equipped to proactively prevent preventable incidents and tragedies…but evidence-based data from post-tragedy reports reveal most schools and colleges that experienced incidents and tragedies had some or all of the above.
Please do not fall into the trap of believing student safety will get better by using the same status quo systems and approaches. When you stop and think about it, old school systems and approaches DO NOT make sense with new risks and threats. Add in overwhelming evidence, and it is clear old school approaches are not solutions for effectively preventing preventable incidents.
What are schools, colleges, organizations and communities missing? What does the evidence-based data tell us about answers and solutions?
In the big picture, awareness and accountability programs (PSAs, assemblies, etc.), proactive prevention solutions and reactive response solutions (security devices) and are all necessary and critically needed – however most schools, colleges, organizations and communities only have two out of the three – the first (awareness and accountability) and the last resort (security reacting to the threat at the front door). School, college, organization and community leaders must understand the evidence and overwhelming data that they are missing the second link (proactive prevention), otherwise dangerous gaps will lead to more failures and tragedies.
The good news is numerous forward thinking leaders across the nation have taken this data seriously and realize “next generation” prevention solutions are needed for improving student safety, campus safety, employee safety, community safety and proactively preventing preventable incidents and tragedies.
Proactive prevention requires the right tools for ongoing awareness and accountability at the individual level, threat assessment, behavior assessment, secure information sharing, collaboration with third-party resources, automated reminders, escalation of at-risk individuals and situations, mental health services and resources, audit-ready documentation of actions taken for legal due diligence, compliance and internal controls and more.
Contact Awareity to learn what an evidence-based, award-winning, proven, next generation prevention platform can do for your school, college, organization and community. Based on success stories from leading schools, colleges, organizations and communities, and for pennies on the dollar compared to what you are spending today, you can start PREVENTING and stop reacting.
Shootings: Twenty-eight innocent students and staff members were killed in 44 U.S.A. school shootings in the 14 months following the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
Stabbings: Multiple stabbings in Canada, China and USA, including 16-year-old student in PA who stabbed 21 students and an adult — leaving four seriously injured.
In a 2013 Student Safety Survey – 37% of students said they were aware of an individual that poses a potential risk to their school. (scary by itself and even scarier since most school officials don’t know)
Bullying & Suicide: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) validated bullying behavior and suicide-related behaviors are closely related.
Overwhelming evidence reveals a very serious Prevention Gapidemic – not preventing preventable incidents due to too many gaps. And the troubling and dangerous gaps are prevalent in schools, colleges, organizations, government and communities.
Troubling gaps exist in nearly every school, college, organization and community today, gaps where information exists but isn’t shared or known by the right people who can do the right things. These gaps are missed opportunities to prevent tragedy. For all of us, a horrifying scenario that sadly has occurred over and over is an Active Shooter/Stabber at a school or college or in the community. Yet evidence overwhelmingly shows the organization could have prevented these expensive and tragic events. The problem is the Prevention Gapidemic.
To better understand the Prevention Gapidemic, please answer the following questions:
Is it better to have innocent children/staff come face-to-face with shooters, stabbers, stalkers, abusers, bullies and other threats and they are forced to REACT to the threats
Is it better to PREVENT threats from getting to your children/staff?
Is it better to PREVENT Suicides or should families, friends, employees and communities REACT to Suicides and then provide ongoing REACTIVE services?
Every time I ask these questions, education leaders, organizational leaders and government leaders all agree that it’s better to PREVENT.
Now consider the following question:
How many of your organizations have one or more of the following Security solutions? Special Locks, Security Doors, Security Alarms, Cameras, Access/Visitor Management System, Mass/Alert Notification Systems, Metal Detectors, Active Shooter Training, Security Assessments, Crisis Management Plan, etc.
Every time I ask this question, most people hold their hands up saying they have most if not all of these.
Now consider this question:
How many of you have a central, secure prevention platform that gives anyone and everyone a voice and an opportunity to share what they see, hear and know that school, college and organizational leaders may not know and then immediately the prevention platform automatically notifies the right team of people?
Every time I ask this question, very few if any people hold their hand up saying they have a “prevention platform” that equips everyone in their school, college, organization and community to take proactive prevention actions.
The next generation central, secure prevention platform not only allows anyone/everyone to confidentially or anonymously submit an incident report when they see or hear hurtful, harmful, suspicious and/or concerning behaviors and automatically routes the incident report to the right team members, but the next generation prevention platform also equips the right team members with the right tools to:
Are you beginning to understand the “Prevention Gapidemic”?
Everyone agrees it is better to PREVENT, yet schools, colleges and organizations are spending millions and millions of dollars on Security solutions that by design REACT to threats already at your front door, while investing little to nothing on “Proactive Prevention” solutions to prevent threats from getting to your front door. Does this make sense?
Evidence clearly exposes current approaches do not make sense and why a Prevention Gapidemic exists. Evidence from nearly every post-incident and post-tragedy report reveals pre-incident indicators existed and in most cases incident reports were made – BUT schools, colleges and organizations were not equipped to “collect the dots, assess the dots, connect the dots and proactively prevent” preventable incidents and tragedies.
“We/They failed to connect the dots,” is an excuse we read/hear over and over yet proven prevention solutions exist to help organizational and community leaders eliminate this unacceptable excuse. More importantly proven prevention solutions are saving lives, reputations and budgets.
Awareity provides proven solutions to ensure Proactive Prevention, Awareness, Accountability and much more. The right information, in the hands of the right people, at the right time, can make a world of difference where we and our loved ones live, learn and work.
Awareity wants to help you make that difference and prevent tragedies. And it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think, but it requires leaders and champions to take action.
Preventing student safety incidents and tragedies ultimately isn’t about what somebody else does; prevention happens when all of us, each of us, lead by example and do the right thing.
Do the right thing and contact Awareity to find out how easy it is to have a proven and award-winning prevention platform in place in your school, college, organization or community.
Earlier this month, an elementary school in Buncombe County, N.C., banned 9-year-old Grayson Bruce from carrying his My Little Pony backpack, saying it triggered bullying.
According to the student’s mother, one of the school counselor’s suggestions was to hide it.
“If you have something like this you’re asking for trouble.”
Think about it…BANNING is actually teaching and reinforcing intolerance, BANNING is not helping youth learn how to be tolerant and inclusive. If a school bans My Little Pony backpacks because it might lead to bullying, what’s next? Banning students with red hair, banning students who are overweight, banning students in wheel chairs and banning students with learning disabilities?
This school is missing the bigger picture and missing an opportunity to help ALL students learn a valuable life lesson from this situation.
As I think back to my days as a student, I now realize how lucky I was because my parents and a couple of really good teachers I had along the way did not BAN THINGS, they explained why an action or behavior was not a good idea and what the consequences would likely be. This “student awareness” helped me understand how ALL OF MY decisions had consequences – good and bad consequences.
Schools should be teaching tolerance, not banning items that may cause a distraction, which is a no-win situation for everyone. Schools should help build a culture of acceptance, build self-confidence and teach youth about how they can respond to potential bullying students and teach youth about the consequences bullying can have on their peers and on their own future.
K-12 schools and Higher Education institutions are in way too many headlines for diversity and intolerance problems. And Higher Education headlines are revealing what happens when K-12 schools use “banning” approaches rather than “awareness” approaches. Banning only reinforces intolerance and exclusion; banning does not address the source of intolerance to prevent problems from re-occurring in the future – in Higher Education and in the workplace.
Why do adults prefer banning? Are adults becoming more disconnected? Are adults becoming more intolerant? Are adults giving up and just taking the easy way out with banning? Are adults setting the right examples for youth? Are school and college leaders not equipped for the next generation?
Looking at news headlines and tragedies, it is crystal clear every adult and every youth on the planet could benefit from better awareness and a better understanding of “inclusivity, diversity and tolerance”.
Connecting the dots and providing the right awareness at the right time are keys to preventing many problems in our schools, colleges and society today. If you believe banning My Little Pony backpacks is the best way to prepare students for the real world…it is time for you to get reconnected to the real world and stop contributing to a serious and growing problem.
Earlier this month, Awareity released our 2013 Student Safety Report – What Students Know and School Administrators Don’t.
To request the full report click here.
The findings outlined in the report provide administrators with the validations and evidence they need to justify immediate action.
Just think how much safer every school would be if all students were equipped with the right tools to report incidents and concerning behaviors.
Just think what a difference it would make if School Officials were equipped with the right tools to collect information, connect all the right dots, investigate, perform threat assessments, intervene, monitor, and proactively prevent reports from escalating into more serious incidents or tragedies?
Albert Einstein said:
I definitely agree with Albert Einstein on this quote. When it comes to preventing incidents and tragedies in schools, colleges and organizations of all types, evidence clearly reveals our planet is in need of more geniuses.
Are you ready to be a genius?
Lots of people and experts have opinions on solving problems and let’s be honest…it is fairly easy to look at a problem and make suggestions that people need to do this or that or add more of this or more of that or do it this way or that.
With so many experts, so many books and so many programs on solving workplace violence, targeted shootings, bullying, suicides, cyber harassment, sex abuse, child abuse and numerous other threats, why are so many threats still occurring and even increasing in our schools, colleges and organizations?
We need more geniuses. We need more proactive prevention.
In a recent meeting, one of our bright young employees made an interesting observation when we were talking about the differences between “reactive response” and “proactive prevention”…she said – “Maybe people do not really understand what preventing involves?”
Perhaps she was right. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on proactive prevention and what it involves. It should be fun and valuable for everyone who wants to be a genius.
After a very cold and very early start on Sunday morning with a 3 hour delay due to frozen airplane systems and frozen lines (meaning no hot coffee on a very cold plane!), I finally made it to the 25th annual National Youth At-Risk (NYAR) Conference in Savannah, GA. http://coe.georgiasouthern.edu/nyar/
The NYAR conference started with a very motivating and uplifting keynote from Keith Brown – Mr. I’m Possible. http://www.keithlbrown.com/
Mr. Brown reminded everyone that we can make a difference – a huge difference for all youth if we do that little bit extra and if we do not let negativity discourage us from doing the right things. You really have to hear Mr. Brown speak…his passion is contagious.
The Georgia Southern National Youth At-Risk Center was approved in March 2013 and their focus includes:
Youth-At-Risk signifies the urgency and seriousness of societal “risks” faced by today’s youth and is distinct from “at-risk youth.” The NYAR Conference and new Center focuses on the “risky” conditions that threaten youth’s well-being which include a range of factors including poverty, racism, drugs, school violence, gangs, bullying, negative peer pressure, negative school climate, lack of relevant curriculum, passive instructional strategies, disregard for individual learning differences, ineffective discipline systems, low teacher expectations, unqualified teachers, inadequate counseling, teen pregnancy, sexual harassment and dysfunctional home life.
Awareity is proud to be a part of the National Youth At-Risk Conference! Stay tuned for related news that will be great for schools and at-risk students…
Article originally posted on Corrections.com
What does a School Resource Officer (SRO) do all day? Do they just stand in the hallway at school waiting for violence to occur? Should schools be spending their limited funding on SROs?
These are questions, Safety and Security Coordinator for Bradley County Schools, Scotty Hernandez often receives. And NO, the SROs are not twiddling their thumbs. To the contrary, these officers are heavily involved in student activities, classroom lectures, after school events, discipline and more.
Bradley County is one of the school districts fortunate enough to have an SRO in each of their school buildings. But, it was sometimes challenging to describe to the public how the SROs were being utilized and just how much of a difference they were making in the overall school community.
Bradley County recently turned to Awareity’s TIPS (Threat assessment, Incident management and Prevention Services), a web-based risk and prevention platform. The TIPS platform is successfully being used in multiple school districts across the United States to more effectively identify, prevent, and intervene in threatening behaviors. TIPS provides an easy online solution for all students, parents, faculty, staff and community members to safely (and anonymously or confidentially) report concerning behaviors, suspicious incidents, and general safety/security concerns to the right school staff and SROs.
“TIPS is a tool to be utilized by school administrators and law enforcement to increase awareness of student safety and concerning behaviors within our schools,” said Hernandez. “This tool has the potential to help law enforcement and school personnel to detect, deter, and disrupt unwanted behavior and or criminal activity.”
Incident Reports made through TIPS are reviewed by school administrators at each school and by the SRO. Reports can also be securely and safely shared with SROs at other school locations in the event of bullying between students at different schools, harassment on the bus, students transferring to other schools, etc.
Since TIPS was implemented in August of this year, one of the most valuable uses of TIPS has been by the SROs themselves. SROs have taken advantage of the incident management platform to keep track of over 400 reports, ranging from daily log activities, custody issues, juvenile citations and many other activities relating to Student Safety. Hernandez met with the SROs and said, “Your daily activities should tell a story of how you are an integral part of the school team and a contributor to the learning process. Every day you are helping create and foster a safe and secure working and learning environment”.
Guidance counselors often call upon an SRO to assist in conflict mediation efforts. Parents may seek information from an SRO if they suspect their child is using drugs or alcohol. Many times students just want someone to talk to about problems they are experiencing, and an SRO fills the role of a caring adult in the school building who works to find positive and proactive solutions for young people. In addition SROs work to educate students in crime prevention and personal safety through programs like DARE.
TIPS make it simple to view and track who has done what regarding any particular incident or student. SROs can log their daily activities and share any information they feel is relevant with SROs at other schools in the district. TIPS is saving SROs valuable time in their busy schedules as they can more easily review related incidents involving students and securely access all information in one central location.
An SRO supervisor stated “My SROs love using TIPS as a way to share information across the district. And it’s an easy way for me to print reports for statistics and analytical purposes for my department”.
Funding for TIPS in Bradley County Schools is through a Safe Schools grant