April 7, 2022

    How Important Are K-12 Incident Monitoring Tools in Keeping Students Safe?

    Time is critical when a life may be at risk.

    Let’s just say that today, our youth faces more challenges than ever. Every day, students of all ages run a gauntlet of dangers that can threaten their physical and emotional safety and negatively impact learning. Our schools are on the front lines for students experiencing mental health, bullying, gun violence, and other threats.

    The question is, “how can we ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our students and schools safe?”

    We can answer with one word: vigilance. Schools have learned the hard way that they must be on continuous alert for situations that could place students and school staff in harm’s way.

    Comprehensive K-12 Incident Monitoring Tools Are on Alert 24/7/365

    Incident monitoring helps districts keep track of health and safety incidents, hazards and trends. It isn’t realistic to think that schools can provide constant support to monitor and intervene on unsafe student behaviors without some type of support. Constant support means 24/7, with services offered outside of school and workplace hours—including overnight, weekends, holidays, and organization-wide vacations.

    Even if a student or teacher knows about a dangerous situation, they may not be able to assess the risk level, know what to do, or have easy access to support—all causing delays in taking appropriate steps.

    Time is critical when a life may be at risk. Comprehensive K-12 incident monitoring tools can provide a full continuum of 24/7 support and resources while responding appropriately and quickly to incident reports.

    What Should You Look For in a K-12 Incident Monitoring Tool?

    Once a school team determines that it should purchase an incident monitoring tool, what should it look for? When researching solutions, here are seven questions to help you choose the right solution for your community.

    1. How will students and staff report an incident? - First and foremost, reporting must be quick and easy, by phone, app, web, or other technology. With texting as a basic, immediate form of communication, it’s wise to look for a company that offers a crisis text line so that people in crisis, at any location, can access the platform. Regardless of the communication method, it’s imperative that it be quick and easy to connect users to mental health support and crisis intervention. Also, find out if the system is anonymous, which will help individuals feel protected when reporting concerns.
    2. Is the solution monitored 24x7? - A primary goal of incident monitoring systems is to provide continuous service, no matter when a situation occurs. Any technology-based system should include step-by-step guidance based on a proven threat assessment model, specific protocols, and response plans. Does the solution have in-house management of your incidents outside of school and workplace hours – including overnight, weekends, holidays, and organization-wide vacations?
    3. Is the solution robust with features? - Learn about the solution’s capabilities for identifying and assessing threats, intervention, routing calls, escalating them as necessary, and documenting incident reports and action. Drill down to find out about how they train staff and how the company interacts with local law enforcement, emergency services, 911, and school-designated coordinators. You may also want to ask if they have tools to surveil school-supplied technology devices, networks, and internet activity for signs of violent, unsafe, or harmful behaviors—and to alert school officials.
    4. Is the technology safe and reliable? - Cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind. Another important concern is ensuring data is kept safe, secure, and private. In addition, you can ask about the technology’s level of uptime and data backup to ensure that you are covered at all times.
    5. Is training offered? - Ask what services the company provides to train staff in threat assessment and intervention, as well as developing action plans to protect individuals and possible targets. Some companies go beyond offering training, with in-house Incident Response Centers that employ comprehensively trained specialists that monitor, respond, and manage both life and non-life-threatening situations.
    6. Is there a panic alert system for crisis situations? - For fast response and better outcomes, any solution should have a panic alert system that instantly connects to the local 911 emergency telephone system so you can directly ask for help—without going through a call center or re-routing system.
    7. Is there direct mental health support in crisis situations? - Some solutions offer ways to directly connect with mental health counselors during times of personal crisis. Counselors help you move from a hot moment to a cool calm.

    Tools are Just the Beginning

    Having a robust incident monitoring tool is table stakes. It is the combination of the system, people, and escalation processes that make the tool valuable. All have to work in harmony to make it effective.

    When choosing a tool, take a close look at how the supporting staff is trained. Take a deep dive and learn how both crisis counselors and incident response specialists are trained and how they escalate immediate issues. Being able to distinguish between a routine emergency and a crisis emergency can mean life or death. Ensure that they are trained to monitor, respond, and manage both life and non-life-threatening incidents.

    The Importance of K-12 Incident Monitoring Tools

    With all the challenges today’s children and youth face, more schools are implementing K-12 monitoring systems to do a better job protecting their students 24/7/365. STOPit offers state-of-the-art, always-on tools to enhance the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of your school community.

    K-12 Safety

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