Resources Regarding the Crisis in Ukraine

Many of you have reached out to ask if we have age-appropriate resources for supporting students regarding the crisis in Ukraine. The resources below provide tips for teachers and parents that we hope are helpful for your schools.

How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War: Common Sense Media gathers tips and conversation starters to help you talk to kids of different ages about the toughest topics.

Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of elementary school children: This article from the American Psychological Association can help adults guide their young children beyond fear and to resilience.

Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of middle school children: The American Psychological Association breaks out tips and strategies for parents and teachers of middle school-aged children.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources that can be filtered by topic or keyword and by audience with a focus on how adults can identify traumatic responses in young people and how to support them.

 

Trauma-informed practice is an essential element of many of Safer Schools Together’s professional training sessions. Please reach out to info@saferschoolstogether.com if you would like to schedule a session for your school community. 

Addressing the Gang Violence in BC

 

UPDATE: Registrations for these sessions are now closed!

In light of the current Lower Mainland gang conflict and its impact across the province, SST will be offering complimentary sessions for: Students, Staff (Educators & Law Enforcement), and Parents

 

 

The tragic announcement of the remains of 215 children found at former Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia

‪The bodies of 215 Indigenous children, found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School has elevated intergenerational trauma for many Indigenous communities. We have included a list of resources dedicated to supporting Indigenous peoples here.

A Conversation on Race in Schools

The Language of Social Media

The Language of Social Media

The Language of Social Media

Photo courtesy of @cottonbro

As the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures continue, our Safer Schools Together (SST) Threat Analysts have noticed an increase in students using covert language to communicate suicidal intentions, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

“Our youth have taken to social media to remain social at a time where we have been forced to physically distance,” says SST Trainer and Senior Threat Analyst Nick Chernoff. “It’s important for parents, educators, and law enforcement who support student safety to pay attention to what youth are posting online, especially because the majority of our social interactions have moved online.”

Although students have always had their secret language to express thoughts and feelings on social media, we’ve noticed a resurgence in this online trend and new accompanying vocabulary. We first saw a drastic increase in covert language with the use of the hashtag, #mysecretfamily. With this trend, youth were posting about family members Ana (girls) or Rex (boys) to speak about their struggles with anorexia, family members Sue (girls) or Dallas (boys) if they were struggling with suicidal ideation, and other names that corresponded with various mental health struggles.

mysecretfamily

Students use secret language to share mental health struggles. Please be warned, if you decide to search the internet for secret language terminology, you may come across triggering content.

Now we are seeing students posting about wanting to become ‘unalive’ or ‘unal!ve’, using misspellings like ‘sewercide’, when they are struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. Seemingly innocent lines such as ‘I had pasta tonight’ and ‘I finished my shampoo and conditioner at the same time’ are often meant to be seen as a cry for help when posted on social media by teens and young adults.  It is believed that the phrases are derived from Hannah Dains’ poem ‘Don’t Kill Yourself Today,’ which lists reasons why a suicidal person should choose to stay alive.

Hannah Dains

Hannah Dains

Students may use covert language as a subtle cry for help. They don’t necessarily want to come out and directly speak about the things they are going through so they use these codes to signal to their peers that they are struggling. Another reason for the use of secret language could be that certain social media platforms have censored posts containing hashtags such as #depression #suicide and even those that were once covert such as #Ana and #Sue.

According to Chernoff, the added stress of the pandemic is causing increased anxiety in youth, and it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the things they are posting online. “Take a few extra seconds when looking at a social media post to see if it has a hidden meaning, you may be surprised,” he says.

Social Media Platform Updates:  

  • Facebook Vanish mode: Facebook Messenger’s vanish mode will let users send messages that automatically delete. “Vanish mode is also opt-in, so you choose whether to enter vanish mode with someone. If someone takes a screenshot of your chat while you’re using vanish mode, you’ll be notified.”
  • Facebook / Instagram Messenger: Facebook launches cross-platform messaging on Instagram and Messenger. Users currently have to opt-in to use this feature.
  • Instagram Changes: Big changes in Instagram include a different layout and a new Instagram Checkout icon making in-app purchases easier. Instagram has also added keyword search in addition to profiles and tags.
  • Snapchat Spotlight: Spotlight is seen as Snapchat’s version of the popular short-form videos that were popularized by TikTok. Spotlight is described by Snapchat as, “a new entertainment platform for user-generated content within Snapchat.” Like TikTok, over time Snapchat’s algorithm will personalize Spotlight videos to suit users’ individual interests. According to Tech Crunch, “To encourage creators to post to Spotlight, Snapchat says it will be distributing more than $1 million every day [to those] who create the top videos on Spotlight.” SST is concerned about the harmful behaviors we may see from youth as a result of this monetary offer. In August of this year, Instagram also jumped on the popularity of short-form videos with its launch of Reels.
  • Twitter Fleets:Fleets allow you to share fleeting or transitory thoughts, and after 24 hours, they’ll disappear from view. Fleet authors can see who views their Fleets, including accounts with protected Tweets, by clicking into their Fleets and tapping on the Seen By text at the bottom.”

SST provides monthly (90-minute) remote learning sessions covering Current Behavioral Trends and Digital Updates. Sign up for a 1-year subscription

TikTok Ban

TikTok Ban, Now What?

TikTok Ban

Trump Administration Bans TikTok in the United States. Photo courtesy of Kon Karampelas.


TikTok is banned in the U.S.

The Trump administration announced plans this week to restrict access to TikTok in the United States starting Sunday, September 20th. While existing users can continue to use the app on their devices, updates will not be supported and new users will not be able to download the app.

The ban of TikTok and WeChat (the largest chat platform in China) comes because of concerns of both apps’ collection of American citizens’ personal data. TikTok gained popularity by allowing users to post short video clips set to music. Videos can be edited with filters and manipulated in different ways. Content creators can and have used this platform to gain overnight success by posting a single viral video. This has been the reason for TikTok’s explosive growth—the app allows everyday people to become internet sensations.

“It’s more of an entertainment platform than lifestyle one, which is why it’s been so popular. This type of content isn’t going away,” says Colton Easton, Threat Analyst Manager for Safer Schools Together. “There’s going to be a move towards other platforms.”

Charli D'Amelio TikTok

Popular TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio recently joined rival app Triller.


The Future of TikTok Followers and Influencers:

Some of the platforms Easton mentions are: Triller, Byte, and Instagram Reels. Content creators, including TikTok’s most prolific user, 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio, have already begun to explore other platforms. D’Amelio, who has over 85 million followers on TikTok recently started a Triller account, that gained 1.2 million followers in two days.

When creators switch platforms, the followers will too. “The app will still be used, but we’re predicting a slow burn out of the app for consumers and creators using TikTok,” says Easton. “We’ll see this more when new features are added to these other platforms like Triller and Instagram Reels.”

 

Safer Schools Together (SST) provides Digital Threat Assessment training to Law Enforcement and School Districts across North America. All aspects of school safety and threats to schools now involve a social media or online component and it’s important to be prepared. To learn more about SST’s services, email info@saferschoolstogether.com.