Behavioral Intervention Team (B.I.T.)
California’s Bill of Rights & Responsibilities created a legacy of having a right to safety and security and the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of others. The Threat Response, Assessment and Intervention Team (T.R.A.I.T.) worked to promote a safe and secure environment to learn and work by addressing threats or possible acts of violence for over a decade. As California moves into a new chapter by integrating with Clarion and Edinboro, T.R.A.I.T. is evolving into the Behavioral Intervention Team (B.I.T.).
The Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) provides assessment and early intermediation to students exhibiting concerning behaviors, supports students with concerns and assists faculty/staff. The team is dedicated to the campus community’s wellness and safety by providing an atmosphere where individuals are free to work and learn in a secure and supportive environment. B.I.T. will continue the legacy of having a right to safety and security and the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of others by taking reviewing a broader range of behaviors.
Reasons to Refer a Student to B.I.T.
Referrals can be made by anyone – students, family, friends, employees, or community members. Referrals can be made at any time through the referral form. This referral system accepts reports any time but is not monitored so responses are not immediate. Immediate concerns should be reported to the police. If on campus, please call 724-938-4357 (HELP) or 911. If off campus, please call 911.
Referrals should be made whenever a student is exhibiting concerning behavior or appears to be in distress. This can include:
- Self-injurious/suicidal idealization, thoughts or actions
- Threatening behavior towards others
- Erratic behavior
- Aggressive behavior (arguments, fights, threats, angry outbursts, etc.)
- Destructive behavior (substance abuse, self-harm, disturbing others, not meeting commitments like attending class, etc.)
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Social withdrawal
- Eating disorders
- Frequent abnormal behavior (paranoia, hallucinations, etc.)
- Appearing tired or suddenly losing interest in activities or social events
Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Resources
Referrals can be made at any time through the referral form. This referral system accepts reports any time but is not monitored so responses are not immediate. Immediate concerns should be reported to the police. If on campus, please call 724-938-4357 (HELP) or 911. If off campus, please call 911.
When making a referral:
- Provide as much information as you are able. Do not avoid or delay submitting a referral because you aren’t sure if you have all the information. B.I.T. will collect additional information if needed.
- Factually describe the behaviors you have observed that are causing the concern. To the best of your ability, include duration (how long ago did you notice the behavior?), frequency (how often do you observe the behavior?), and intensity (use a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the highest intensity).
- Provide your name and contact information if you’re comfortable doing so. You can report anonymously if you don’t want to provide your name.
- Identify witnesses if known and you are comfortable doing so.
B.I.T. will review the referral, gather any additional information needed and determine the most appropriate response. Responses will vary due to a number of factors, but may include:
- Providing support to, or consult with, the reporter.
- Assessing the level of concern for the student, threat to others or need for services.
- Coordinating outreach to the referred student to advocate for, and assist in using, support services such as counseling, tutoring, health services, etc. Outreach may come from B.I.T. members or others with an established relationship with the student.
- Monitoring the situation for changes or escalation.
- Referring to the Dean of Students Office for review.
- Notifying the appropriate police department.
The reporter will not be notified of what action is taken to due to confidentiality of B.I.T.
Associate Dean of Students
311 Natali Student Center
Helping People in Difficulty
- Be aware of the location of the nearest phone whether a landline or cell phone.
- Stay calm.
- Contact 911 immediately if the person threatens themselves or others.
- Reach out for help or support, whether from a colleague, the Counseling Center (724-938-4056), Health Services (724-938-4232), Associate Dean of Students Jim Pflugh at (724) 938-4439, or PennWest California Police (724-938-4357 or HELP).
- Report concerns.
Do & Don’ts when Dealing with Suicidal/homicidal Risk Behavior
- Do take a student’s suicidal or homicidal ideas seriously and report
- Be active, not (Don’t keep the risk behavior a secret.)
- Keep Use soothing tone of voice. Be respectful & patient. (Don’t overact)
- Call PennWest California Police 724-938-HELP (4357 or dial 911 on your campus phone
- Do ask about suicidal behavior. Asking a student if s/he ever wonders if life is worth living or if they ever want to go to bed and not wake up does not cause them to become It will give you valuable information that needs to be shared as part of the crisis intervention call to the police. Stay focused on the risk behavior. (Don’t get sidetracked on extraneous or external issues or persons.)
- Remain with the student (or have a colleague remain with the student) until at least one additional professional (Exception – your safety)
- Follow up if the student requests
- Only make promises you can
If you have a relationship with the student (even the smallest degree of a connection):
- Ask the student to talk one-on-one. Give the student time between asking and meeting with
- Let someone else in your department know so that they may be available if you need
- Let the student know what you have been (“I’ve noticed you haven’t been around as much as you normally are,” “I noticed that you have been having some outbursts of anger lately,” etc.).
- Avoid blaming or using “why” statements as these can be seen as judgmental
- Use open questions like “Tell me about how things have been going this semester,” “What has been difficult or rewarding this semester.”
- Listen to what the student is saying and remain calm. Even if a person is in crisis, them telling you the problem does not create the Remain calm and listen to what they are saying even if you know that you will be encouraging them to seek help.
- Talk directly to the issue without Listen and do not interrupt silence if it occurs, this may be especially hard for a person to talk about.
- Reflect what you are hearing back to them. This will help let them know that you are listening and trying to understand what they are going
- Ask them what they think would help
- Let the student know about campus resources that are available to them and encourage
- Counseling Services
- Health Services
- Alcohol and Other Drugs Office (P.A.R.C.)
- PennWest California Police
- Know your boundaries and limitations: you do not have to do this alone, and it is not your responsibility to “fix” Help the person find hope while offering them the resources that are available. Say,“I know (name) in (department) who has helped people with this before, would it be okay if I gave them a call while you are still here with me?” If they do not want resources at this time, respect their decision.
- Call a campus resource including Counseling Center (724-938-4056), Health Services (724-938-4232), Associate Dean of Students Jim Pflugh at (724) 938-4439, or PennWest California Police (724-938-4357 or HELP) for consultations and advice about the next
If you don’t have a relationship with the person:
(e.g., they are in your large lecture class, are a resident in your building but not on your floor, are in another department), but notice signs of distress or are aware of a pattern of concerning behavior, it may be more comfortable or effective to contact a network resource who might be “closer” to the person.
- Call the Counseling Center or Health Services
- Fill out a BIT referral form [https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?PennWestUniv&layout_id=60].
- Call Associate Dean of Students Jim Pflugh at (724) 938-4439
Your decision may also be affected by your:
- Comfort level
- Severity of the topic
- Ability to find time in your schedule
- Personal factors associated with the topic
What you should avoid doing:
- Assuming the student understands you
- Assuming the family knows about the student
- Feeling obligated to take care of the student
Bizarre/Irrational Behavior may include:
- Social withdrawal
- Complete lack of emotion
Crisis Emergency Numbers
PennWest California Police
Dean of Students/Student Conduct/B.I.T.
Alcohol & Other Drugs Education
Office of Social Equity
Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response
SPHS Hotline (Mental Health Crisis)
CARE Center (Washington)
Helpline of Washington County
Mon Valley Community Health Center