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Focusing On Parents In Managing School Social Media Risks from Praesidium

by on June 16, 2016

MISBO Vendor Praesidium recently sent us the content below to share with our member schools.  The content is just too good to not share with everyone!

From Praesidium, Inc.:

Focusing On Parents In Managing School Social Media Risks

Does your school provide parents with information pertaining to social media use of their children? Most schools do not despite that offenders who prey on children have turned social media forms, such as texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, into their new “online” playground.

92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent of teens report being online “almost constantly.” Plus, research confirms that individuals find it easier to use sexualized language with the anonymity of texting or messaging than when communicating face-to-face with someone. And offenders are taking advantage of the sheer volume of children online and the ability to remain anonymous to victimize children.

Predators need three things in seeking victims:

  1. Access — It’s easy for predators to get access to children online—they know which sites children visit and how to start communications with them behind anonymous screennames.
  2. Privacy — Social media allows for immediate privacy.
  3. Control — By encouraging victims to break rules early on (like talking about sex or even messaging sexualized photos), predators can more easily initiate sexual contact.

This process is called grooming.  Because sexualized language is used more quickly online, predators can gain privacy, groom victims and initiate sexual conversations much faster with text messages than they can face-to-face with victims. Plus, they have lower likelihood of getting caught than when they operate in public, around potential witnesses to their behaviors.

So how can schools keep students safe online? In addition to implementing policies and procedures regarding school employees’ electronic interactions with students, schools should also equip parents with the tools they need to protect their children online.

  • Educate – Schools can educate parents about the dangers of social media. Parents should learn about the various forms of social media; how to effectively monitor their children’s profiles, apps, and text messages; and what grooming behavior looks like. Consider holding informational meetings for parents and including up-to-date social media information in the Parent Handbook as a resource, including how the school defines acceptable and unacceptable forms of electronic communications between school employees and students.
  • Sample Family Guidelines – Encourage parents to include texting and social media habits in house rules, along with curfew and behavior expectations. Establish clear boundaries, including never giving out personal or identifying information, never agreeing to meet in-person someone they’ve met online, and identifying social media acceptable and unacceptable uses in the home (such as prohibited programs and acceptable hours for utilizing acceptable programs). Schools can assist parents by providing sample guidelines.
  • Monitoring – Parents can better protect their children by monitoring social media profiles and texting history. Other steps, including having the computer in the living room rather than the bedroom, can help prevent the risk of abuse. At a minimum, encourage parents to check social media profiles and computer histories when children have exhibited risky online behavior in the past.
  • Responding – If a parent does discover their child may be at risk of abuse through social media, they need to have the tools and knowledge to respond. Schools can help parents by creating resources for responding and talking to their children about possible dangers and how they can keep themselves safe from online predators.

By providing training workshops and information for parents regarding safe social media practices, your school helps keep your students safe and encourages your students to have healthy online interactions.


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