Bullying is a real danger for students today. More than 28 percent of U.S. students in grades 6-12 experience bullying and more than 160,000 stay home from school each day due to fear of being bullied. In today’s always-connected world, cyberbullying has also become a growing problem. It can occur anywhere and at any time—including at school. Every day it seems there are new apps, forums, or websites that allow students to anonymously post hateful messages and gang up on their peers.
It is the primary job of the education system to teach our children. However, schools are also entrusted by parents to keep students safe. Bullying prevention is part of this and schools can tackle it on several fronts. It involves creating positive school climates, adopting rigorous reporting systems, and educating students and parents about digital citizenship and how to use social media responsibly.
The role of monitoring software
Another way schools can get in front of the issue is by using monitoring software to keep an eye on what students are doing while on the school network. This is where I come in. As the technology director for the West Rusk County (TX) Consolidated Independent School District, I have been a staunch proponent of using technology to support student safety. This includes using monitoring software.
Monitoring software acts as a safety net. It gives administrators another set of eyes to watch what students are doing online. We use Impero Education Pro because it includes monitoring software as well as classroom/IT management software. The company works with advocacy organizations to develop lists of keywords and phrases that could indicate cyberbullying (and other concerns such as self-harm, violence, or radicalization). It sends me and my staff an alert when it detects students typing those words or phrases or accessing certain sites that are often used for online bullying.