Return to Learn: Tips to Facilitate a Successful Transition

Students in classroom

As the Holiday break concludes and both parents and today’s youth embark on establishing a fresh routine for the rest of the semester, here are five helpful tips to facilitate a successful transition back to in-person learning now that the semester is underway!

Establish a routine: It is important to gradually reintroduce school routines including setting regular bedtimes, waking up earlier, and incorporating effective study habits.

Encourage organizaion: Encourage youth to organize their backpacks and supplies to ensure they have everything they need for the upcoming semester. In addition, develop a family schedule or calendar to track essential dates and major project deadlines. Prioritizing time to review the upcoming week, noting important dates, extracurricular activities and other commitments can help your family operate smoothly and help everyone manage their time more effectively.

Open communication: Encourage youth to engage in an environment that provides support, making them feel at ease to openly share any worries or anxieties regarding their return to school. Inquire about their chosen classes, social circles, and extracurricular involvement, and collaboratively address any concerns to ease the burden of stress.

Plan for your health: Ensure youth have nutritious meals and snacks to fuel their learning. To save time, plan and prepare meals in advance to avoid adding tasks to busy mornings. In addition to eating healthy, promote positive sleep habits. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule along with creating a nighttime routine can ensure youth are getting enough rest.

Encourage social connections: Returning to school is an opportunity for students to reconnect with friends and classmates. Encourage your student to engage in social activities and foster positive relationships.

At Safer Schools Together (SST), we recognize that each family, parent/caregiver, and student are unique, so we recommend you adapt these tips as you see fit for your individual needs.

Check out our complimentary resource guide Raising Digitally Responsible Youth to further support ongoing dialogues with today’s youth on how to stay safe on the internet, on social media, in video games and more.

To learn more, visit

Navigating Challenges Associated with Holiday Breaks: Understanding the Impact on Youth Behavior, Online Safety, and Mental Health

While today’s youth encounter a range of holiday experiences, data suggests that these timeframes are not a positive experience for all young people, potentially leading to diverse effects on behavior and development.

For many students, school serves as a source of comfort, routine, and security. However, during the holidays, several challenges can arise that may include increased anxiety. These challenges often stem from changes in routine and increased isolation. The holiday season often acts as a predictable timeframe where Safer Schools Together (SST) notices an increase or shift in individuals’ behavioral baselines.

During these predictable timeframes, students who lack healthy connections to responsible adults may be vulnerable to negative influences, particularly those promoting worrisome online behavior. SST recognizes that increased screen time is a real concern for today’s youth and their online safety.  Heightened online activity during predictable timeframes can lead to increased exposure to cyberbullying/bullying, online harassment, and exploitation.

These timeframes may also lead to experimentation with drugs or alcohol which often occurs due to boredom, peer pressure, or an attempt to escape mental health challenges.

Cyberbullying/Bullying, Online Harassment, Exploitation:

Cyberbullying has become increasingly prevalent due to the rapidly evolving nature of digital communication, especially among today’s youth.

Cyberbullying has become increasingly prevalent due to the rapidly evolving nature of digital communication, especially among today’s youth. The validation of self-esteem, worth, and identity through online interactions may expose young people to the impact of cyberbullying on their mental well-being. SST has data that suggests there has been an increase in cyberbullying behavior among today’s youth.

Online harassment encompasses a broader spectrum of negative behaviors that go beyond the confines of bullying. It includes persistent, unwanted, and often malicious actions carried out through digital channels. Harassment can target individuals or groups based on various factors such as gender, race, religion, or personal beliefs.

The risk of exploitation can be heightened as individuals, particularly today’s youth, spend more time online. Exploitation can take various forms, including financial exploitation, sexual exploitation, or the manipulation of personal information for nefarious purposes.

Mental Health Challenges, Isolation, Loneliness, Anxiety, Depression:

Mental health challenges may escalate/evolve during predictable timeframes, particularly for youth disconnected from school activities. Isolation is a significant contributing factor to the exacerbation of mental health challenges. Individuals who experience isolation often lack meaningful social connections, which are crucial for emotional support and a sense of belonging. This isolation can be particularly pronounced during predictable timeframes, such as school breaks, holidays, or other times when regular social activities may be disrupted.

Additionally, predictable timeframes can lead to heightened anxiety levels. For youth disconnected from school activities during breaks, the lack of routine and social interactions may contribute to increased feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and depression.

Ensuring Digital Privacy:

Social media platforms are designed to facilitate the sharing of information and experiences. It’s easy to post a status update, a photo, an event, or a “check-in” with the click of a button.

Why do we overshare? Social media platforms are designed to facilitate the sharing of information and experiences. It’s easy to post a status update, a photo, an event, or a “check-in” with the click of a button.

During holidays, the frequency of oversharing tends to increase. Many individuals feel compelled to share their travel plans, experiences, or holiday festivities on social media. While this can be a way to connect with friends and family, it also raises concerns about the potential risks associated with sharing too much information, particularly regarding one’s whereabouts.

To mitigate potential security risks, individuals should adopt a mindful approach to social media sharing. This includes being selective about the information shared, adjusting privacy settings to control the audience for each post, and refraining from posting real-time updates about travel plans.

SST is committed to educating students, staff, parents/caregivers, and communities about online safety. Open dialogues between parents/caregivers or trusted adults and youth are crucial for addressing these issues. Positive adult role models in the community can significantly impact high-risk vulnerable youth through early identification and intervention. Encouraging youth to engage in sports, activities, school programs, and educational activities during predictable timeframes can help maintain routines and create positive environments. It is crucial to recognize the signs of mental health issues and implement strategies to address and prevent their escalation. Providing support systems, both within and outside educational settings, can help mitigate the impact of predictable timeframes. The collaboration of parents, schools, and community organizations in addressing these concerns and providing resources during predictable timeframes can have a substantial impact on young people.

SST has developed a complimentary resource guide designed to help introduce the major social media platforms, video games, and relevant trends that are either being used already or have the potential to be used by today’s youth: Raising Digitally Responsible Youth: A Parent’s Guide

To learn more, visit

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 [email protected] 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.


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 [email protected].