Today’s students live in a world where they must navigate the Internet to do schoolwork and research, create social media accounts to stay connected with friends, and use apps to communicate. As a result, cyber-bullying has become an alarming threat that all schools must be prepared to address. In light of recent events involving school shootings, students have become acutely aware of their surroundings at all times. Whether it’s walking home from school or attending after-school activities, students are more worried than ever about their safety while away from home. Likewise, due to increased awareness of potential dangers, parents have become more cautious about monitoring who their children interact with online outside of school hours. However unfortunate and destructive these situations might be, they are catalysts for change in how schools handle student safety.
Safeguarding students in and out of school
Due to their status as non-adult minors, school districts are charged with safeguarding students while they are in school, in transit, and on school property. This means that schools are expected to protect the privacy and safety of students in the classroom and on school property, as well as during after-school activities. While it is the responsibility of parents to protect their children off school property and outside of school hours, schools should still be prepared to handle any issues that arise. If a student is being cyber-bullied or receiving threatening messages via social media, school officials should be ready to step in.
Social media monitor
One of the best ways to keep students safe is to have a teacher or administrator monitor students’ social media accounts at all times. While some social media platform providers (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) offer monitoring tools for parents and guardians, others (e.g., Twitter, YouTube) do not. Because most schools provide laptops or computers for students to use, monitoring social media accounts from these devices is an effective way to protect students. If you are a teacher or administrator at a school, it is best to have a policy in place that explains when and how you are monitoring social media accounts. This will help parents and guardians understand why you are keeping an eye on their children’s online activity. If you are a parent or guardian, you might want to request that your child’s teacher or administrator monitor their social media accounts. This will help ensure that your child is safe while online.
Teach students digital safety skills
Teachers can help students develop digital safety skills by incorporating lessons into their curriculum. This may involve introducing students to computer programming, coding, or cyber security and encouraging them to participate in online competitions or challenges. Teachers could also work with students to create a safer online environment for their school. This could entail students creating a digital roadmap for their school, including social media accounts, websites, and apps used by students. Teaching students about digital safety will help them stay safe online and have a better understanding of how social media, smartphones, and apps work. Likewise, students who are educated about cyber security could potentially create more secure websites for their school.
Create a safe online environment for your school
Every school should have a website that clearly outlines its expectations for students, as well as a Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy. These documents should be easy to understand and available in both printed and digital formats. If your school has a website, it should also have a social media presence on at least one platform. Even if your school doesn’t have a large following, a social media account is a great way to share information and keep parents and guardians up to date on what’s happening in the classroom. If your school doesn’t have a social media account, or if it doesn’t look professional, students, parents, and guardians will likely ignore it. A messy-looking social media account or website could indicate that your school doesn’t take online safety seriously.
Schools have a responsibility to keep students safe, both on and off school grounds. With that in mind, teachers and administrators should make it a priority to educate students about cyber security and the dangers of social media. This includes teaching students how to create a password that has special characters, letters, and numbers, as well as how to avoid sharing personal information. Teachers can also help students develop digital safety skills by incorporating lessons into their curriculum. This may involve introducing students to computer programming, coding, or cyber security and encouraging them to participate in online competitions or challenges. In addition to safeguarding students in and out of school, schools can create a safer online environment by creating a social media account and posting a Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy online.