What is the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT)?
The Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) coordinates OTC’s resources to address the needs of students who are experiencing significant behavioral disturbances. Our goal is to recommend collaborative and purposeful interventions aimed at helping students achieve success. With one central location available to express concerns, the scope of assistance and the follow-up care that may be necessary can be greatly expanded for our students.
The goals of OTC’s BIT include the following: (1) preventing crises before they occur through the provision of outreach and educational programming, consultation, appropriate assessment and referrals, (2) ensuring that students whose behavior is of concern are contacted through follow-up processes and have access to the appropriate services so that they have the opportunity to improve their welfare and (3) creating a unified reporting and tracking system that will allow members of the BIT to observe patterns of behavior that may elicit assessment and to provide a documented response to distressed students. For more details concerning the Mission and Purpose of OTC’s Behavioral Intervention Team, please visit BIT TEAM PROTOCOL.
Why does OTC need a BIT?
Legal agencies and research gathered from institutional tragedies strongly support that educational institutions must address campus safety in a much more unified, planned and proactive manner than ever before. Two states, Virginia and Illinois, require their state universities to have formal teams such as our BIT. It is no longer acceptable for higher education institutions not to have a centralized campus team and system to help identify students in distress early, connect students in distress with appropriate resources and provide follow-up care. Please visit the following on-line resource for more insight into this topic: Why Do Campuses Need Behavioral Intervention Teams?
What is OTC Cares and how is it different from the BIT?
OTC Cares is a set of resources that has been established to protect the health and safety of our community. The BIT (along with Safety & Security, Disability Support Services and Counseling Services) is one of the resources that falls under the umbrella of the OTC Cares initiative. For more information, visit OTC Cares.
What kinds of behaviors of concern should be reported?
Some of the most common behaviors that are reported include the following:
(Note: Please refer to the question on “When should I make a report to the BIT, and when should I contact Safety and Security?” listed below for urgent situations requiring immediate assistance. In instances where 911 or OTC’s Safety and Security must be called first, we ask that you follow up with a BIT report).
- Classroom Disruption
- Yelling or being Excessively Loud
- Distracting to Other Students
- Refusing to Leave or Cooperate
- Destruction of Property
- Not Complying with Instructions
- Under the Influence of Substances
- Threatening Words or Actions
- Acts of Physical Aggression
- Threats of Violence
- Expressions of Anger/Agitation/Inability to Cope
- Mention of Violence as a Way to Solve Problems
- Hostility, Lack of Empathy
- Aggressive Statements/Threats through Social Media Sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.)
- Acts Motivated by Hatred or Discrimination
- Harassment or Bullying
- Articulation of Depression, Hopelessness or Harm
- Bringing Weapons to Campus (e.g. gun on person or in automobile, knife larger than 2.5 inches, archery bow)
- Writings that Convey Clear Intentions to Harm to Self or Others
- Observed Self-injurious Behavior (cutting, burning, etc.)
- Excessive Class Absenteeism
- Excessive Hygiene Concerns
- Reports of Abuse, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault
- Extreme Changes in Personality
- Suicidal Behaviors, Including Threats (“I am going to kill myself.”), Gestures (giving away belongings, etc.), Ideation (“I’ve always thought about killing myself.”) and Attempts
- Escalating Low-level Behaviors
How do I make a referral/report?
If you have concerns about a student, visit OTC Cares and click on the “Click to Report an Incident” button to fill out a confidential Incident Report. Please be sure to include as much specific, objective information in your report as you can. The report form provides unlimited space to describe the behaviors of concern and to attach any supporting materials (photos, writings, etc.). If you have questions concerning reporting, you can also consult with any member of the BIT Core Team by calling members directly or by calling the BIT line: 417-447-6697.
How do I know if a concern is worthy of a BIT report?
When in doubt, please report. Your reported concerns could be critical to the BIT as we seek to determine whether an expressed concern is an isolated event or a sign that a student has more serious issues.
How anonymous/confidential is the reporting process?
When a report is received, we will only know the reporter’s identity if the reporter chooses to include this information in his/her report. Reporters can remain anonymous; however, we do encourage reporters to include their contact information so that if we need additional information or have questions concerning a report, we can gather this information more quickly.
Will the reporter's identity remain confidential when a student of concern is contacted?
Although there may be situations where the student can deduce who reported the concerns, as a general rule, the BIT does not share the identity of the reporter with the student of concern.
What if the student who has confided in me asks me not to tell anyone? Won't I be betraying my student's trust if I report?
If you are concerned about a student’s behavior and would like to see the student receive early intervention, please share your concerns with the BIT. We ask that you do not promise confidentiality as you may very likely have to break this promise if a student’s well-being is at stake. An acceptable response to this request would be, “I cannot promise total confidentiality, but I do promise that I will only share this information with those who need to know and who can help.”
Shouldn't employees report concerns to their supervisor, department chair or dean rather than the BIT?
Employees are encouraged to follow the guidelines as set forth by their supervisor when it comes to communicating students of concern. We simply ask that this communication also be shared through the BIT so that when appropriate, we can coordinate early intervention for this student in conjunction with the actions the reporter, supervisor, department chair and/or dean plan to take. Although it is your personal decision whether you will report concerns to the BIT, we do ask that you strongly consider how keeping this information isolated within your department for the benefit the student.
Who has access to the BIT reports when they are submitted?
Reports are accessible to and reviewed by core BIT members.
After a report is submitted, in how timely a fashion will the BIT take action?
When you submit your report, the designated BIT member receives electronic notification immediately. Depending on the nature of the concerning behavior, reports may be acted on within minutes of submission. Not all submissions, however, will warrant immediate response, and in some cases, no response is warranted at that time.
When should I make a report to the BIT, and when should I contact Safety & Security?
Individuals must contact 911 first or OTC’s Safety and Security if the person of concern poses an immediate threat to self or others or the individual experiences a medical emergency (e.g. seizure, loss of consciousness). The BIT plays a secondary role to all urgent circumstances and should be contacted only after initial emergency notifications are made. Individuals should follow up during the next business day with Safety and Security as well as the BIT by completing the BIT Report of Concern form.
CAMPUS SAFETY EMERGENCY NUMBERS:
6911 (if calling from on-campus)
417-447-6911 (if calling from off campus or cell)
Who does the BIT serve?
At this time, resources are focused toward working with our student population.
Who comprises the Core Team?
Joyce Bateman, BIT Chair
Assistant Dean of Students, firstname.lastname@example.org, 417-447-6973
Karla Gregg, BIT Vice-Chair
Dean of Students, email@example.com, 417-447-6966
College Director, Safey & Security, firstname.lastname@example.org, 417-447-6985
College Director of Equity and Compliance, email@example.com, 417-447-8188
Dr. Loren Lundstrom
Dean of Student Development, firstname.lastname@example.org, 417-447-8197
How often does the BIT meet?
OTC’s Core Team meets for at least 2 hours each week. During weekly meetings, core members discuss new reports and on-going cases to coordinate resources for students of concern. The Core Team also remains in daily contact electronically for immediate feedback and case consultation.
What is the history of the BIT?
OTC’s BIT was initially formed in 2008 as a subcommittee of OTC’s Crisis Management Committee. This subcommittee was tasked with developing and implementing the Behavioral Intervention Team Protocol. After two years of training and development, the BIT was formally introduced to the campus community January, 2010.
What kind of training/experience/preparation did the team members receive to develop and implement OTC's BIT?
Core Team members have received extensive instruction from partners of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM) to develop and implement OTC’s BIT initiative. Training has involved attendance at conferences, webinars, one-on-one consultation and the study of resources provided by NCHERM and the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA). Members of the BIT Advisory Committee have also participated in numerous webinars on this topic as well as periodic committee meetings.
Who is on the BIT Advisory Committee and what is its purpose?
The BIT Advisory Committee is made up of 23 OTC employees representing a cross-section of the campus community. The purpose of the committee is for members to review trends in incidents, to advise on ways to improve delivery of services, to consult the Core Team as needed and to assist in promoting the mission of the BIT.
How will reporters know if their report has been received and acted upon?
Once a report has been submitted, the reporter will not know the exact actions that may be taken as we seek to protect the privacy of our students. Any number of responses/actions may be appropriate following receipt of an incident report. In some instances, no action will need to be taken right away and in other instances, immediate contact with the student will be necessary. Our team follows an objective protocol when determining follow-up actions. The nature of the report, the behaviors that are being exhibited and the number of reports that we may have previously received all play a role in guiding the BIT in actions that may be taken. Possible actions can be viewed at the following link from our OTC Cares web pages: OTC’s BIT Risk Assessment Tool.
How does the BIT determine if reports are false or true?
There is the possibility that reports contain false information or are reported out of revenge. Nationwide, the number of “false reports” is actually quite low. This is consistent with our experience at OTC. Our Team is careful about the actions we may take when a report is submitted. When necessary, and if the reporter has shared his/her contact information, the team consults the reporter for further information.
Who can submit reports of concern?
We encourage all members of the OTC community (students, employees, visitors to our campus) to participate in the process of recognizing, responding, referring and reporting in order to keep our campus safe and healthy.
Isn't this just profiling students to weed out the "bad" ones?
The BIT initiative seeks to give all students, no matter the type of behavior, the same opportunity to receive early assistance. We achieve this goal by (1) focusing on the concerning behavior(s) and educating our campus community to pay attention to any behaviors that may indicate a student is in distress and (2) following a consistent, objective protocol when working with students who are reported. Our goal is to assist the student to remain enrolled and be successful, productive members of our community through early assistance and intervention.
What happens when an employee is reported through the BIT?
In most instances, we proceed with reports of concern for an employee by contacting the employee directly to determine if we can be of assistance through Counseling Services.
What happens if a Career Center or Middle College student is identified as the student of concern?
Our Career Center and Middle College students have counseling services available to them through the Career Center, and in most instances, the staff of these areas will be contacted to follow-up with the student of concern. A staff member of our Career Center also serves on the BIT advisory committee so we are fortunate to have input and suggestions on how to best refer Career Center and Middle College students who may be reported through the BIT.