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Theresa Campbell nominated for a Surrey Board of Trade’s Women in Business Award

Theresa Campbell, President and Founder of Safer Schools Together (SST) has been nominated for honours at the Annual Surrey Women in Business Awards, in the category of Social Trailblazer.

Since 2012,  SST has been helping schools and law enforcement professionals throughout North America minimize and manage their risks of student violence with reliable, professional training. “We provide a 24/7 service, making sure we’re available for law enforcement and school districts when they’re facing stressful situations,” says Campbell. “Most importantly for us, we’re able to demonstrate around the world the impact that our work can have on early intervention for young people on the pathway to violence. The work we do is already very rewarding. It’s just a bonus when it gets recognized.”

Campbell developed the first web-based anonymous reporting tool to encourage students to get personally involved in ensuring the safety and security of their school. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Frederic Milton Thrasher award for superior service in gang prevention. The same year she was awarded the 2008 Solicitor General Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award of Excellence in recognition of her contribution and commitment to crime prevention and community safety.

Campbell is very involved in the community and has served on many boards and committees—liaising with various levels of government, police services, school districts, regional health and social services. She is currently an executive board member of the Odd Squad, an organization founded by former VPD (Vancouver Police Department) members that design prevention and educational programs for youth.

In 2016, SST’s partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Education was honoured with the Premier’s award for work done on the Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) Bullying Strategy. ERASE is a multi-pronged bullying and violence prevention strategy program run by SST for the Ministry that brings together schools, students, teachers, police, Crown counsel and other community partners to prevent bullying and violence in B.C. schools.

Last year SST was also awarded the Surrey Board of Trade’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award at their Excellence Awards.

The 11th Annual Surrey Women in Business Awards will take place on March 12, 2020. The event recognizes the hard work of Surrey’s businesswomen and their contributions to the community. Honourees will be announced at a luncheon at the Sheraton Vancouver Guilford Hotel. Famed consumer advocate and activist Erin Brokovich will deliver the keynote address.

Stereotypes bad predictors of school violence

Stereotypes bad predictors of school violence

Arvadapress.com
Posted Monday, February 11, 2019 7:24 pm

Experts at Thornton seminar urge educators to look at words, online postings for tips.

When it comes to preventing the next Columbine High School shooting, two school security experts urged educators to look at what their students say and where they say it.“A lot of these kids are very open and post things on websites or social media that are clear, explicit comments about the violence they intend to do,” said Dr. Peter Langman, an international expert on the psychology of school shooters. “They might hide their intentions, but a lot of people are very open about what they intend to do. Maybe they think they can post it and get away with it. No one is going to stop them.”
The young people behind the worst school violence don’t always fit the standard stereotype, Langman said at a school threat assessment symposium Feb. 5 at the Adams 12 School District conference center in Thornton.
Potential school shooters are not always outcast white males but can be any race and can come from seemingly good backgrounds, Langman said during the morning session at the day-long conference.
“The only piece of that is largely true is the male piece of it,” Langman said. “There is far more racial and ethnic diversity among shooter than people tend to realize and they can be far more socially successful.”He encouraged educators to look for warning signs among the work students do in school — projects and writing assignments that demonstrate a fascination with guns, a lack of empathy and emotional need for vengeance and violence.“My concern is people are is only looking for someone who is the misfit, the outcast or the loser and the loner,” Langman said, “They’ll miss the actual warning signs that are out there.”

Sam Jingfors presented the afternoon session, devoted to how educators can find and evaluate potential threats. Jingfors is vice president of Safer Schools Together, an organization that trains educators and police on how to use social media to evaluate potential threats and get kids the help they need.
“The threshold is low for how incredibly easy it is to create a fake Snapchat account, post something like this and have it spread exponentially fast and virally throughout your school community creating a moral panic,” he said.”It happens so fast and quite often, it happens when your sleeping.”
The event was organized and sponsored by the Colorado School Safety and Resource Center, part of the state’s Department of Public Safety. The symposium brought teachers, principles, counselor and security staff from across the state together.
Warning signs
Langman noted that April 1999’s mass shooting at Columbine High School was not the first of its kind or the worst but still manages to be one of the most influential. Many subsequent school shooters, both inside and out of the United States, make reference to the shooters in their writings.
“Columbine was not meant as a school shooting but as a terroristic bombing that would destroy the school and everyone in it,” Langman said.
He noted that scope of what the shooter intended went well beyond anything before or after. He noted, too, that the shooters document their plans and their reasons and the story was covered nationally.
“It also occurred right around the time the world was getting online and the start of the 24-hour news cycle,” Langman said. “When it occurred, it just kind of got lodged into the nation’s conscience in that way. It is the one, more than any other attack that people refer back too.”
While Langman told educators the kinds of things to look for, Jingfors told them where to find it online and described methods for locating it. Often, students warn friends to stay away from school before they do something drastic, what Langman and Jingfors called leakage.
He urged educators to keep open communication with students, who can warm them of leaked threat and said schools should encourage each teacher to learn the name of at least one student that is not in any of their classes.
“For all of you that work with youth, you know how impactful that one relationship they have with an adult can be,” he said. “It can’t be understated.”

More wins than losses
It’s an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but worth the time. Jingfors said schools do a much better job intercepting incidents than most people realize.
“We actually have a disproportionate number of wins compared to the losses and I think that’s very important to remember,” Jingfors said. “Those don’t make the headlines and it’s hard to quantify prevention but I can tell you that it’s happening across the country.”
He outlined one scenario that occurred during a seminar he and his staff were presenting. A school superintendent approached him during a break with a Snapchat photograph that she had just received from her staff. The photo, of a hand holding a gun, warned students to stay away from school the next day but was from an unidentified account. She asked Jingfors for help determining if it was a real threat.
“Our analysts were there, they were hungry and they were ready to get to work,” he said.

Jingfors said his analysts were able to quickly trace the anonymous poster’s username across multiple social media and friends’ accounts — across Snapchat, a Steam online gaming account, three Instagram accounts and his Facebook account — to a series of suicidal Soundcloud audio postings linked to a students name.
“Once that information was provided to the superintendent, she was able to make the call she needed and have law enforcement go directly to his house and apprehend him as a risk of suicide,” he said. “They were actually able to get a longer hold than just the typical one for a suicide risk assessment. Law enforcement was able to seize a gun from his house, so it was a good case scenario. It speaks to the timeliness and importance to have someone able to navigate social media for digital threat assessment.”

The Top 3 Social Media and Online Sites Students are Using Right Now

The Top 3 Social Media and Online Sites Students are Using Right Now

The online and social media landscape is constantly changing, and middle school and high school students are often the first to use new social media sites and other digital products. As a campus security and public safety professional, you need to know what the students in your schools are viewing on the internet so that you can protect them. But keeping up with the latest trends can be extremely challenging.

So what are the three hottest social media and online products that ‘tweens and teens are currently using? To find out, CS interviewed Sam Jingfors, who is vice president of Safer Schools Together. In this video, he tells us about Snapchat, Instagram and the game Fortnite, as well as some of the risks associated with each.

Sam Jingfors: Snapchat came out in 2011, until this day in 2018, it is the most popular App that they’re using to communicate one to one with each other. And of course their claim to fame was that the Snapchat photos disappear in 10 seconds or less. Poof, they’re gone. We know that they don’t really disappear, because we see screenshots of them on other platforms.

But I think some of the changes over the past year specifically that have changed the game in terms of school safety, but also how our kids are using it, is public Snapchat story, and the fact that each one of our schools has a searchable public Snapchat story that our kids are adding photos and videos to.

Secondly is SnapMap, which allows kids to be able to geo-locate their friends and specifically their bit emojis, which is their small, animated caricature, a representation of who their friends are. They can see where they are on a map in real time, down the square block. So that certainly pulls some challenges too, in the eyes of parents, wanting to make sure that their kids are safe online.

So we’re always making sure that our kids are aware of every single one of their Snapchat contacts for example.

Want to learn how to identify precursors to violence that are leaked through social media posts? Attend this summer’s Campus Safety Conferences, which are being held in Texas, Virginia and California. In all three events, Sam Jingfors of Safer Schools Together will present Digital Threat Assessment: How Publically Available Social Media Can be Utilized and Assessed to Ensure Safe Campuses. To register, visit CampusSafetyConference.com.
The second most popular App is Instagram. Owned by Facebook, Facebook of course is going through some privacy challenges at the moment, and that’s had an impact certainly on the way that Instagram operates. But privacy as it relates to Instagram for our kids, it’s either you’re public or you’re private. It’s like a light switch in the setting.

So we recommend to parents to make sure if they’re young kids especially, are getting into the social media world, they’re likely asking for Instagram, make sure that account is private right off the bat, which allows you to control the followers, and those that actually want to follow you. And you can approve and deny at a willing basis.

Third most popular, just to keep it succinct, is a game called Fortnite. It’s part of the Battle Royale type category of games, which is kind of a free for all. It is taking over the world. Every student I know at school right now is either playing Fortnite or is annoyed that other people are talking about Fortnite and playing it. All the way from grade four or five, all the way up to college age students. It started off just being a computer game, and then they just recently released both their Android as well as iPhone edition of the game.

What Should Schools Do When Students Engage in Sexting?
Related: What Should Schools Do When Students Engage in Sexting?
So there isn’t a ton of risk associated with contact with strangers aside from just the game play, and relatively it is one of the more creative that has been released over the last little while.

So certainly I think part of the point with parents in Fortnite is just regulating screen time with that, just trying to moderate that. And putting limits in place that they’re not playing 13 hours a day of Fortnite and ignoring other areas of their life.

So I’m really looking forward to speaking with attendees later this summer in the three separate Campus Safety events across North America, where we will be able to dive into all these platforms and talk about much more around the lives of our kids’ digital and social media presence.

Original Article

Finding your way through the online world

Keeping up with the latest social media apps and crazes is not an easy task, especially for parents trying to keep an eye on what their child is getting involved with on their phone.

Nick Chernoff of Safer Schools Together was in the South Okanagan last week, offering some help for parents and kids trying to cope. It’s part of a program with Safer Schools Together working with the Ministry of Education to offer seminars in school districts across the province.

Chernoff said that parents are often overwhelmed by the technology. They want to know about the applications, he says, but there are so many applications and games out there, it’s really not possible to keep up with the flavour of the week.

“What I really promote with the parents is don’t be afraid of it, but learn with your kids. Sit down and play with them,” said Chernoff. “Even though you may not have an interest in what they do or how Snapchat works, ask them. Because if you show that keen interest to the kids, they’re more likely to show you how these things work.”

According to Statistics Canada, 19 percent of Canadian children have experienced cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

Research suggests vulnerable youth are at a greater risk of mental health challenges and may be more susceptible to bullying and cyberbullying behaviour.

Kids won’t always want to show parents what they are doing, he admits.

“But I really promote to parents to try to initiate that conversation so that eventually they will be willing to share when they are being bullied or they are being targets of violence,” said Chernoff, adding that there is all going to be some content that the kids aren’t going to share with parents.

“At the end of the day, the parents pretty much own the devices and I tell them, you should be able to take that device whenever you want,” said Chernoff. “But I am not saying to do that. We have to pick and choose our battles and teach them to use technology for good, but most importantly sit down and learn with them.”

The message to the kids is more how to protect yourself online and how to protect your loved ones around you. Chernoff sums it up with a simple admonition.

“If you see something, say something and we as adults will do something about it,” said Chernoff. “We don’t expect you, as a kid, to have that on your shoulders, to have to deal with that. We will help you, but you have to tell somebody.”

Don’t talk to strangers remains a message to children, even online, but with the added problem of not even being able to see a face.

“You don’t know who is behind that screen. I could put a picture of a fake person up here, and I could lie. So I kind of give scenarios like that. Don’t always assume it is the person they say they are online,” said Chernoff. “We have to tell them about the good, the bad and the ugly with social media. We can’t shelter them.”

There is a lot of good brought about with social media and technology.

“At the end of the day it is promoting positive use of technology, to respect this device,” said Chernoff. “Technology is here to stay. We can’t fear it, we have to learn how to use it wisely.“

Chernoff said he gives give them examples of positive use and talks about having a good digital footprint.

“I talk about their online presence. Potentially, down the road, jobs, colleges, and universities are going to be looking in their social media accounts.”

Chernoff said their needs to be boundaries about device usage at home and at school but says banning isn’t an answer, especially considering the amazing things kids are doing with technology.

“Technology is here to stay. I really encourage parents and teachers to first educate themselves … then pass that education along to our kids,” said Chernoff.

Original Article

‘No app for empathy’: Provincial workshop teaching digital manners heads to Richmond

This week, Richmond parents will have the opportunity to learn how to teach their children about using technology appropriately and safely at a digital literacy workshop.

The Raising Digitally Responsible Learners workshop, taking place on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Ferris Elementary, is part of a series of workshops sponsored by the provincial government to help students navigate the digital world.

“Parents certainly do have that responsibility to provide guidance and support and restrictions to their kids’ digital and social media lives. It can’t just be enough to give them a new digital device and say ‘good luck, don’t mess up,’” Sam Jingfors, vice-president of Safer Schools Together, the organization running these workshops, told the Richmond New.

“As a society, we’re connected in ways that we’ve never been before and what that means is we have our children accessing and utilizing technology at a younger and younger age.”

For those with kids under the age of 14, Jingfors said it’s important for parents to know how to protect their children in the online world, particularly teaching them how to understand privacy. For those over the age of 14, Jingfors said it becomes more important to teach students how to digitally brand themselves, understanding that what they post reflects who they are.

“They need to be cognisant that this is becoming the new standard for moving forward in life. Your digital footprint is a representation of who you are in the real world,” Jingfors said.

“You want to make sure you’re representing yourself in a way that you’re proud of.”

The province-wide workshops, which are expected to take place in every school district, were announced following February’s Pink Shirt Day, a day that aims to support anti-bullying programs. This year’s focus for the nation-wide event was cyberbullying.

“Parents play an important role in the safety and upbringing of their children both with respect to on and offline behaviours,” said Carol Todd, mother and founder of the Amanda Todd Legacy Society in a press release.

“Parents have a need to become better informed on how their children are using technology and, more importantly, how to support them in conversations related to social media and cyberbullying.”

Jingfors said parents attending the workshop can expect an honest dialogue on how students are using social media – both for good and bad.

“The goal of the session is to empower parents to not be afraid of technology but to embrace it within their own household and to understand that their role as parents is now more important than ever,” Jingfors said.

“There is no app for empathy or website for compassion, those are still family values.”

http://www.richmond-news.com/news/no-app-for-empathy-provincial-workshop-teaching-digital-manners-heads-to-richmond-1.23267897

Digital Footprint’s Role in Risk Assessment for Violence Prevention

Watch as Eileen Shihadeh of Raptor Technologies and our own Theresa Campbell show how to use tools to establish a digital footprint, and how that can aid in risk assessment.

High River Online – Parenting in the Digital World

March 17th, 2018

A evening of social media awareness and parenting in the digital world was a wealth of information recently.

Sam Jingfors, vice president of Ensuring Safe and Caring School Communities lead the discussion with parents recently at Senator Riley School.

He says one of the major things is for parents to not be afraid of technology.

“At this point in their kids lives parenting, as well as education, is at its most important point. They still need direction on entering the world. Whether it be a digital world or not there’s no app for morality and there’s no website for empathy.”

He adds parents play a critical role within the development of their kids.

“Trying to just have more common conversations about technology and more frequent ones in their household is ultimately going to be better in that they will be approachable if an issue does come up.”

Jingfor adds parents need to walk along side of their children into this world.

“Instead of prohibit, prohibit, prohibit and then, ‘Oh no they are in this world and how do I catch up?’ It pays dividends to try and establish that open dialogue around technology.”

He said the time for these issues being taboo, when the adults know nothing, is in the past.

“The sooner we start having more open conversations about the challenges and risks they are being exposed to the better off they will ultimately be, because they will be more inclined to talk to us to deal with those issues.”

His talk focused on the good things that are happening in technology, things the public doesn’t hear a lot about.

“All of the great stories we hear on a daily basis, with kids being up-standers and putting their foot down against cyber bulling.”

He says this is the fourth industrial revolution and there is no playbook for what is going on in the moment and we will look back at this time and say this was a pivotal transition period.

Loriann Salmon, director of inclusive learning with the Foothills School Division says having Jingfors share his knowledge made for a few busy days but there was lots of good information shared.

Jingfors was also here in October and he did some training with administrators and worked with parents and students at Okotoks Junior High.

“It is really building student understanding and awareness and staff understanding and parents. We are kind of coming at it from all angles,” said Salmon.

Parent and teacher Tesa Weber-Larsen says the information Jingfors shared is information every teacher, parent, grandparent and every youth should have access too.

“I am aware of the challenges we face as parents raising youth in the social media world. It is a struggle to stick to the boundaries that we have,” said Weber-Larsen.

She brought her son to the talk so he heard the parent perspective from a few different adults.

“A lot of people are not aware of just how addictive social media is as well as video games are. I think we need to set very clear boundaries.”

She adds parents need to encourage kids to be creative in other ways.

“It is very easy to get caught up with, ‘Oh lets check our Instagram for 10 or 15 minutes,’ and pretty soon it has been an hour. The loss of time it is devastating to our creatively and our health. We don’t get outside and play like we use to.”

She adds a lot of children are missing out on the real life benefits of random, because we are so focused on being entertained all the time.

https://www.highriveronline.com/local/parenting-in-the-digital-world

Oliver Chronicle – Students learn about online safety

March 8th, 2018

“How many of you use social media?” Nick Chernoff from Safer Schools Together asked Grade 5, 6 and 7 students from Tuc-el-Nuit and Oliver Elementary schools.

Most of them raised their hands.

Chernoff spent last Tuesday presenting to students and parents in Oliver about the risks that come with using the internet – especially social media.

But rather than only focusing all the things that could go wrong, Chernoff talked about how kids can increase their safety and use the internet for good.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” he told students, delving into discussion on not believing everything you read on the internet – especially who someone you don’t know says they are. He made it clear to never add someone you don’t actually know in real life.

He also warned students not to “over share.”

Chernoff told the story of Stacey Grant, who posted on Facebook that she was away on holidays with her family. One of her Facebook friends saw the post and knowing that the house was empty, burglarized the home.

“Post when you get back,” Chernoff told the students.

Along with personal privacy, Chernoff talked about the importance of thinking before posting because “the internet never forgets.”

This includes thinking twice before posting personal information, as well as comments that may be hurtful to others.

He shared an acronym that students could use as a checklist when deciding whether or not to post something: THINK (is it true, hurtful, illegal, necessary or kind).

But kids weren’t the only ones who learned about the pros and cons of the world wide web.

The provincial government announced on Feb. 28 that they are providing $100,000 to the B.C. School Superintendent’s Association (BCSSA) to fund social media education sessions for parents in every school district in the province. The BCSSA has partnered with Safer Schools Together and as a result, Chernoff also hosted a discussion for parents at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.

At the discussion, Chernoff shared how parents can speak to their children about their online activity, rather than shelter them from the internet.

Chernoff said that it’s next to impossible to keep kids away from social media, especially as they get older. While they’re young, it might be a good idea to keep them from creating accounts, but as they age, they’ll likely find a way to access it – with or without parent permission.

“Open communication is the best thing, building that trust.”

That includes having daily conversations about online activities. Safer Schools Together provides parents resources online, to make these conversations a little easier.

Chernoff also presented to students in Osoyoos on Monday.

NBC News – Feature on PSSTWorld Anonymous Reporting Tool

http://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/online-resource-allows-kids-to-report-safety-concerns-anonymously-to-school/63-519528824

February 16th, 2018
St. Louis County, MO

Online resource allows kids to report safety concerns anonymously to school

After the deadly shooting at a Florida high school, one school district in the St. Louis area is reminding parents that their kids can use an online tool to report anything suspicious, and they can do it anonymously.

“People are rattled by it, so we check on each other and look out for each other and make sure everybody’s doing OK,” Kevin Hampton with the Ferguson-Florissant school district said.

One of the ways the Ferguson-Florissant district does that is through an online resource called PSST World, and they’re the only district in the state that uses it.

Students can click the link on the district’s website, which leads them to a series of questions.

There, they can select their school, the type of problem they’re dealing with, and they can write what’s bothering them.

That information is sent immediately to the district’s safety team.

PSST World is designed by a Canada-based group called Safer Schools Together.

“It gives them the mechanism to get that information to the right people, and it allows an intervention to happen immediately,” Sam Jingfors with Safer Schools Together said.

The group says about 20 districts in North America use the program, and the tips they’ve received help make schools safer.

“Whether it be a gun found on school campus to a fight that happened during lunchtime,” Jingfors said.

“Students are willing to stand up for what is right and wrong,” Hampton said, and the tool just gives them one more way to do that.

“Hopefully in an uncertain world, they know we’re doing what we can do make things safer,” he said.

This is the second school year the Ferguson-Florissant district has used the program.

Global News – New Brunswick School District Implements PSSTWorld

Anglophone West School district launches online reporting tool to combat bullying

Global News – February 14th, 2018

Anglophone West School district launches online reporting tool to combat bullying

Students in Anglophone West School District have a new way to remain safe at school as an online, anonymous reporting tool has been launched.

PSSTWorld is an initiative that’s been growing over the past few years.

Hundreds of schools across Canada have adopted the tool, providing access to over 145,000 students.

“It allows them to be able to report anything that they find to be concerning to them and get that into the hands of the people that need to know about it,” explained Sam Jingfors, director of services for Safer Schools Together.

Students can log onto the PSSTWorld website and through drop-down menus report their issue to the proper channel, all the while remaining anonymous and eliminating the stress students might face by speaking up.

“It could be bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, threats,” explained Judy Cole, communications director for the district. “Any type of safety concern can be reported.”

Anglophone West is the first school district in New Brunswick to use it.

Cole indicated the district’s schools are known to be safe, welcoming places but in the interest of being proactive, they wanted to bring in this new measure.

“We’ve been working on policy development, staff training and student awareness around safety,” Cole said. “The launch of PSSTWorld is the next step in that process.”

PSSTWorld is only monitored during normal school hours, so students in emergency situations are still encouraged to call police directly for immediate assistance.

“Kids and Parents Learn How to Stay Safe Online” – CKPG News Prince George

November 21st, 2017 CKPG News Prince George

The youngest generation has grown up with the internet at their fingertips. That’s why students from grades two to 12 learned about their digital footprint and how to stay safe online this afternoon. A speaker from Safer Schools Together gave a presentation called Social Media Awareness, Digital Footprints, and Cyberbullying. The keyword was online citizenship, it teaches kids to be accountable for their actions and to treat the online world the same as their life offline. “The focus with the students is really on citizenship, how they interact, what does it mean to have a digital profile, what should they be thinking about when they’re online, and how to make a difference,” said speaker, Greg Gerber.

There will also be a seminar for parents tonight at Heather Park. The focus will be on how to monitor a child’s internet use, as well as coaching them to make good choices online. “It’s to keep the message and the language consistent so the parents have the tools to keep their kids safe all the time,” said Heather Park principal, Parrish Child.

Source and Credit: http://ckpgtoday.ca/article/508781/kids-and-parents-learn-how-stay-safe-online

CBC Radio – Sam Jingfors from Safer Schools Together

October 27th, 2017

Listen in as CBC’s Terry Seguin talks to Sam Jingfors, Director of Services with Safer Schools Together about how parents can raise good digital citizens and keep their kids safe online in a rapidly evolving digital world.

Editorial: Don’t close ears to the suicide issue

TIMES COLONIST

JUNE 27, 2017 12:57 AM

Schools in Greater Victoria, like others across North America, are confronting the fallout from a Netflix series about bullying, teen suicide and sexual assault. For teachers, parents and teens, the show’s sudden popularity has put mental health on the front burner, and left them looking for help.

The series 13 Reasons Why is based on a young-adult novel, and tells the story of a teenage girl who commits suicide. Before she dies, she leaves 13 audio tapes for people in her life who contributed to her final decision. Since it premièred in March, it has become the most-discussed program of 2017 on social media, with more than 11 million tweets on Twitter in the first three weeks. The scenes of rape and suicide are graphic and disturbing, but it has struck a chord with teens. The series is arguably aimed more at adults than children, but that hasn’t stopped teens from devouring it.

There are reports that the show has prompted thousands of young people to talk about the issues of bullying, assault and suicide that they see in their own lives, but that raises concerns about whether it could trigger suicidal thoughts.The organization Safer Schools Together says it has found no cases where young people said the show lowered their risk of suicide, but “we do know of multiple cases (coast to coast) where it has increased their risk.”

Schools and mental-health experts across North America are worried about how to respond.

In B.C., the Ministry of Education has warned districts to be aware of the show, and has produced material to foster discussion between parents and teens, through Safer Schools Together and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. In the Greater Victoria School District, administrators passed the province’s information to all seven high schools and 10 middle schools. Most of them handed it on to parents. Officials say the response from parents has been positive.

In Ontario, some school boards have written policies on how to deal with the show. They instructed teachers not to use the show as a teaching tool or to bring it up in class, but to respond if students raised it. Some boards have reached out to parents, while others communicated just with teachers.

School districts couldn’t be sure how many parents were aware that their children were thinking and talking about the series. As Sooke school district superintendent Jim Cambridge said: “We were more concerned with the notion that it may have passed over some parents’ and guardians’ radar, simply because it was on Netflix.”

Netflix has added content warnings to all the episodes and has created a website, 13ReasonsWhy.info, for viewers who want to find mental-health resources.

On the Island, help for parents and teens is available through the Vancouver Island Crisis Society, or through child, youth and family mental-health resources.

We can’t wish away the show, any more than we can wish away the traumas it dramatizes. Young people are talking about both, and parents and teachers cannot close their ears.

Most parents are not trained to provide mental-health care. Most are nervous, if not terrified, of saying or doing the wrong thing when subjects such as suicide come up. But it’s important to be open to teens’ concerns and to listen to them without judgment. Parents and teachers can guide young people toward help — if they know the teen needs help. Psychologists say that raising the issue of suicide with your children does not plant the idea or increase the risk, but it can open the door to offering help. They remind us that suicide is preventable.

 

13 Reasons Why’s depiction of suicide sparks notes from capital region schools

 Mike Devlin / Times Colonist

May 2, 2017 10:24 PM

A controversial Netflix series that deals with teen suicide and sexual assault has brought the issues of bullying and mental illness back into focus for school administrators in the capital region.

13 Reasons Why, based on the best-selling young adult novel of the same name, prompted the Ministry of Education to issue an advisory last week, warning school districts of risks it may present to vulnerable students.

It included a list of talking points to encourage discussion between parents and teens, courtesy of organizations Safer Schools Together and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

The series follows the fictional story of a teen girl who kills herself and leaves behind 13 audiotapes detailing the events that led to her death, including sexual assault, substance abuse and bullying. It includes a scene of the girl’s death, prompting criticism it is romanticizing suicide.

Greater Victoria school district superintendent Piet Langstraat said he forwarded the advisory and supplemental material to school officials, but left the decision on whether to send messages to parents up to individual school counsellors and administrators.

“I’m always hesitant to reach into the homes of parents and say this is what you should and should not do,” Langstraat said. “But, at the same time, I think it’s important to provide the support, should it be necessary.”

All seven high schools and 10 middle schools in the district were given the material, and most passed along the information to parents.

Harold Caldwell, director of learning support for the Greater Victoria school district, said the response has been positive. “Nothing negative at all,” he said.

The show premièred March 31 and almost immediately ignited a social media firestorm. In the span of just three weeks, it generated more than 11 million tweets on Twitter, making it the most-discussed television show of 2017, according to Variety.

Sooke school district superintendent Jim Cambridge felt it was important to supply relevant information to every parent in his school district, without admonishing the show itself.

“We were more concerned with the notion that it may have passed over some parents and guardians’ radar, simply because it was on Netflix,” he said.

The series has been praised for its realistic portrayal of several sensitive issues, but has also prompted concerns. According to the TV Parental Guidelines rating system in the United States, shows with 13 Reasons Why’s rating “may be unsuitable for children under 17.”

Viewer discretion warnings were already in place for some episodes. Netflix announced in a statement Monday it has added warnings to all 13 episodes in the series.

The streaming service defended the show as a “valuable driver” for young viewers to start “important conversation with their families” and has produced an additional special, Beyond the Reasons, to explore mental-health topics featured in the drama.

The streaming service has also created a website, 13ReasonsWhy.info, to connect people with mental-health resources.

Saanich school district superintendent Keven Elder, who has watched the entire series, applauded the program for its believability. “I thought it did a good job of demonstrating the kind of harm that can come from bad behaviour among peers,” Elder said. “I thought the message was very clear to be watchful of these things, and to not turn away from them.”

The possibility that some students might see it as glorifying suicide is a “real worry,” he said.

“But there is a lot of good to be taken from viewing it, if it wakes people up to the kinds of things that we too often turn away from.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

Mental-health resources

• Child, youth and family mental-health resources are available by calling:

250-952-5073 in Saanich

250-356-1123 in Victoria

250-952-4073 for aboriginal resources

• Suicide Helpline — 1-800-784-2433

• Vancouver Island Crisis Society — 1-888-494-3888 or vicrisis.ca

• Kids Help Phone — 1-800-668-6868 or kidshelpphone.ca

 SOURCE: Times Colonist – http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/13-reasons-why-s-depiction-of-suicide-sparks-notes-from-capital-region-schools-1.18052768

Experts to discuss safe social media at Comp School

 By Jared Gottselig

May 9, 2017 – 10:00am

Sam Jingfors will be talking with parents and students on Thursday and Friday about responsible Internet usage.

Sam Jingfors will be talking with parents and students on Thursday and Friday about responsible Internet usage. Facebook

In the digital age, society is moving toward a constant connection with technology, and North Battleford Comprehensive High School (Comp School) wants parents to learn more about how to handle their children’s online usage.

Run by Safer Schools Together, Comp School is holding a workshop called Social Media Awareness + Parenting the Digital World on Thursday, May 11, to teach parents about a variety of topics regarding their children’s digital usage.

Sam Jingfors, Director of Operations of Safer School Together, says having a conversation between parents and children regarding responsible Internet use needs to happen as soon as possible, before incidents arise.

“Just being able to have that conversation proactively ahead of time is going to pay dividends when it comes to actually dealing with the issue,” Jingfors said. “I think it’s [a conversation] that can be done appropriately with parents and with kids together as a united front as opposed to leaving it up to the kids to fend for themselves in the expansive digital world.”

Parents can expect to learn about the latest apps and trends being used by children on social media, and how to balance their child’s autonomy while setting restrictions. There will also be a lesson on “digital footprints” Internet activity leaves, and how potential employers use this information during the application process.

Miscellaneous tips and tricks to handle their child’s online usage will also be provided to parents.

“It’s certainly something that we know is a very timely topic for all of these groups, and we’re that much more excited to get that conversation started,” Jingfors added.

This is a free event for parents of school aged children, and will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Comp School cafeteria.

Source

Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why”

PRELIMINARY ALERT – Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why”

We are receiving numerous calls with questions and concerns regarding the trending Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, specifically regarding its use as a suicide prevention educational resource. The producers of the series have stated that they wanted the show to assist those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. The series does highlight the consequences of youth who are bystanders to such incidents and do not report them to an adult, and attempts to address a myriad of other topics such as rape, sex shaming, bullying and drunk driving.

Our primary concern regarding the use of this series as an educational resource is around the potential impact on youth who are vulnerable, have a history of trauma, are victims of related content, or are currently struggling with suicidal ideation. The overall content is very heavy (including the graphic depiction of a suicide death) and it is quite likely many of you are already seeing the impact of these complex traumatic triggers in your school community. While we are not aware of a single case where a student has said exposure to this documentary has lowered their risk, we do know of multiple cases (coast to coast) where it has increased their risk. In some communities, we are also already seeing imitator behaviour involving increased levels of suicidal ideation and individuals making their own version of “justification tapes”.

We are engaged in this discussion not to interfere with the professional autonomy of our educators, but to ensure the social, emotional and mental well-being of all staff and students. With this in mind, we offer the following recommendations to schools where this series is being considered for use in the classroom:

  • District staff and school administrators should work with counselling staff to be available as consultants to any teacher considering portioned uses of the series.
  • School administrators should feel confident that any professional inside their school considering the use of this medium is skilled to do so and that the school has adequate counselling contingencies to address any symptom development generated from the series.
  • Any episode or clips depicting method used to complete suicide should not be shown in the school setting.
  • District or school staff may want to issue a communication to parents to inform them about the series and strategies for discussing the content with their children (see “guidance for families” section of the NASP article below).
  • District or school staff may want to share the tips in the “guidance to educators” section of the NASP article below with those staff members that play a key role in supporting vulnerable students.

The following recent professional articles provide guidance for educators and parents:

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Sherri Mohoruk (604) 868-3949.

 

Sincerely,

Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomat, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response

Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

 

Download PDF Version of Alert – Preliminary Alert – 13 Reasons Why

Extended Critical Period Violence Threat Risk Assessment

Extended Critical Period Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) And Traumatic Aftermath

April 18, 2017

As many are aware, we are experiencing the largest extended critical period we have ever faced as we head into this week’s anniversary of Columbine. This critical period has been exacerbated by the ongoing dynamic political climate. There have been a number of recent hate crimes that were identified through the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) process responding to threat-related behaviour. These include: cultural/ethnic specific threats and incidents of violence, violence against sexual and gender minorities. We are expecting that this critical period will take us to the end of the academic year. This will increase the complexity of our work, as professionals, children and youth alike become increasingly tired as the school year winds down.

As the more recent high-profile incidents have not occurred in our country we need to be reminded that Canada is not immune to these types of incidents. In the field of VTRA we distinguish between “Traditional” versus “Non-Traditional” offenders and most of the high-profile crimes are being committed by the Non-Traditional (those with no history of violence until they commit the crime). We have also never seen a time in which serious violence and the justification for it has become so widespread and commonplace. Therefore, as has always been a theme in these ALERTS, increase your connections with those you are most concerned about.

It is clear that we need to recognize the work of our school communities and all partner agencies throughout the country in the field of VTRA. We would prefer these high profile targeted incidents of violence were not occurring but we have seen many proactive targeted prevention and intervention plans developed and implemented. We need to remind ourselves that through thoughtful collaboration and good information sharing, without a doubt, more lives have been saved than lost.

Different than previous Alerts where we provide VTRA specific reminders, we want to acknowledge your work, and also remind your communities about the importance of the community protocols and the need to revisit existing protocols to determine the need for any changes or additions. Take this time to celebrate your work, dedication, and commitment to the VTRA process and most of all take care of yourself and your own well-being.

Here in British Columbia, we should celebrate the current and ongoing commitment to this work by all levels of government through the ERASE strategy.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us directly.

Sincerely,

Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response

Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

Download April 2017 Alert PDF:

Digital Threat Assessment Hinges On Education, Awareness

“A lot of people are still unaware how digital presence influences overall risk,”said Theresa Campbell, President of Safer Schools Together in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.  This excerpt titled “Digital Threat Assessment Hinges On Education, Awareness” courtesy of LRP Publications 2017.

Download entire article here:

 

 

Illinois School Safety Newsletter

The Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Centre have printed an article in their January 2017 Illinois School Safety Newsletter about Safer Schools Together and our award winning  PSSTWorld.

 

Free 1 Year Trial of an Award Winning Online Anonymous Student Reporting Tool

 
“Schools need to provide students an anonymous way to be able to report safety related and concerning information to the decision makers in our buildings. This is known to be best practice and arises consistently during inquiries into the tragic aftermaths of school shootings. It is known that students aren’t utilizing phone tip lines and they have told us that they won’t install a reporting app on their smartphones. This is the reason that Safer Schools Together created the first Online Anonymous Student Reporting Tool in North America– PSSTWorld, in 2004. Legislation is catching up, for example both California and Texas require school districts to have an anonymous student reporting tool. In California, PSSTWorld won the Golden Bell Award for being the best school safety initiative. We stand firmly behind the inherent value that this tool brings to a school community and Safer Schools Together is willing to offer any school district in Illinois a free year activation of PSSTWorld. It is easy to implement, requires no extra work, and beyond the first year the cost is marginal. You will also receive user manuals, guidelines for responding to tips, and promotional posters and videos. We invite you to let the tool prove its worth. To set up your free year of activation please mail: info@saferschoolstogether.com

 

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