Today, students are not merely digital natives; they are voracious consumers and creators of digital content both in school and out. This increased access has also increased the risk that students will engage in riskier behaviors online or be exposed to content that’s inappropriate, or even dangerous. How to interact online in an appropriate way, and how to navigate difficult issues such as sexting and cyberbullying, often aren’t addressed in school curriculum, despite the huge impact they can have on students both emotionally and academically if things go wrong.
At the San Juan School District in Utah, we took some concrete steps in an effort to get out in front of the issue. As the district’s HR director and Title IX coordinator, I was hearing more concerns and seeing some worrying trends relating to cyberbullying, hazing, and sexual harassment, including some serious allegations involving students that occurred off of school grounds.
As a leadership team, we recognized the need to be proactive in order to ensure incidents like this would not happen in the future, and to accomplish this we needed tools to help us facilitate better communication among both students and staff about sensitive student safety and wellness topics.
To help tackle this issue, the district implemented a series of Student Safety and Wellness courses from Vector Solutions at our high schools. The courses provide online video lessons for students that describe important safety topics and facilitate discussions about those topics.
The lessons were implemented in group sessions at the high schools during the district’s “HOPE Week”–a week dedicated to addressing safety issues such as suicide prevention, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, and digital citizenship.
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