The Rapid Rise of Vaping - Lynda Steele

The Rapid Rise of Vaping

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].

What is Twitch?

What is Twitch?

Suggested Age Range: 16+

Twitch is a live stream video platform with a community primarily focused around video games.

In 2020, we are seeing Twitch continue to become increasingly popular with youth and is being used during and after school.

Safer Schools Together is here to walk you through everything You Need To Know about Twitch, its users, and the influencers that your kids may be following.

What is Twitch?

Twitch is a website where users can watch and broadcast live stream videos. The culture of the website is mainly based around video games, however there are other stream topics such as music, food, and general discussion. Twitch can be viewed in a browser or on Android and iOS mobile devices.

Some of the core features of Twitch are watching others live stream, broadcasting a live stream, an interactive chat system where users can use a text box to chat live with the streamer, paid monthly subscriptions to streamers, and private messaging.

Twitch is not new – it has been around since 2011 and has become increasingly popular ever since. The average user spends 105 minutes each day on the platform and there are 15 million daily active users – that’s 1.5 billion minutes spent on Twitch each day!

The average user is a male between the ages of 16 to 24 and lives in the United States of America.

What is Twitch?

Popular influencers on the site are referred to as ‘streamers’, also known as the users who broadcast frequently and consistently. Many Twitch streamers also upload their content to Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Some of the most popular games to watch on Twitch include League of Legends, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, Minecraft, Valorant, Overwatch, Apex Legends, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and more.

Video games

Twitch has a wide array of influencers (aka ‘streamers’) who are generally associated with live streaming video games. These streamers have followers and views just as on any other social application, however, the monetary revenue source for these streamers are a little more transparent than we typically see on other social media sites.

Any user can monetize their Twitch channel – revenue can be sourced from “tips/donations” which are given to the streamer by viewers to show their support. Sending a tip/donation can trigger an on-screen notification accompanied by a comment from the monetary contributor. Another stream of revenue can source from monthly Subscriptions. Subscriptions allow users to support the streamer on a monthly basis and grants them access to subscriber-only chats, custom emojis, and more. The payment system on Twitch is primarily Paypal, however Twitch also accepts credit cards and Amazon Prime memberships.

Pictured below from left to right are popular Twitch streamers: xQc, Summit1g, Pokimane, and Tyler1.

Twitch influencers

Any live streaming platform comes with its own host of potential dangers for youth. Because users and content creators are not moderated, there is free reign to say or stream anything from hate speech, violence, and other offensive material. Even channels dedicated to kid-friendly content can be a place for predatory behaviour or grooming.

Cancel Culture

Calling out Cancel Culture: How Online Exposures and Cancellations are Impacting Our Students

Cancel Culture

What is Cancel Culture?

J.K. Rowling, Kevin Hart, Johnny Depp, Ellen, Don Cherry—these people have all been called out and cancelled by their peers, the public, or both. Cancel culture is the practice of withdrawing support (or calling for the boycott) of companies and people after it is revealed that they have done something offensive. It has become a way for the public or a group of people to demand accountability. For many, it’s a way to take away the power of the offender. But while celebrities may lose a bit of work or a portion of their fan base as a result of being cancelled, the everyday person faces more devastating consequences.

This trend of calling out or cancelling someone is a new name for the old practice of boycotting.  The only difference now is that when someone is “cancelled” in an online context, it can have damaging outcomes for the person being cancelled.

Youth Trends

What does this have to do with what we’re seeing with students today? “Some youth have weaponized this trend,” says Safer Schools Together (SST) Senior Threat Analyst Trevor Dallow. “They’re running with this idea that they can ruin their peers’ reputations by exposing them.”

Dallow explains that exposure is revealing something private or controversial about someone with the intention of taking them down, causing humiliation and social ostracization.

We are seeing more of this on young peoples’ social media accounts. Students, rightly or wrongly, are being called out by their peers. In our work at SST, we’ve come across following cancel culture trends:

  • Friends exposing each other
  • Premeditated exposures: students will sit on a piece of content for weeks, waiting for the right time to call someone out
  • Students private posts or messages being made public
  • Hate / threats from strangers
  • Fabricated content to illicit negative reactions

The fact that we now have the ability to easily call out the injustices in the world and the prejudices of public figures and peers is a good and positive thing. But when hate is replaced by more hate, we’re not making any progress.

Collective Fight vs. Mob Mentality

A GQ magazine article entitled, Have We Taken Cancel Culture Too Far in 2020? justifiably asks, “But what happens when that discourse becomes one not focused on the larger issue, but one directed towards an individual? Does the collective fight for a greater good turn into a mere mob mentality, one that largely echoes the same principles of bullying? Or are we still all just trying to speak our truth, regardless of who happens to be in the way?”

Where We Go From Here

As we move forward into a society of pervasive cancel culture, our focus should shift to curating solutions: educating students on fact-checking tools, techniques, and giving them a general awareness that not everything they read or see online is factual.

“Just as students were introduced to All The Right Type as computers became standardized in schools, we should also be ensuring that students are expanding their knowledge of cancel culture and how to best avoid becoming a victim of this growing trend.” says SST Threat Analyst / Trainer, Steven MacDonald. “We have to educate our students so that cancelling someone doesn’t become used as an excuse for cyberbullying or cyber exclusion.”

With social media such a big part of all our lives, it’s more important than ever to be mindful about the ways we’re using it. This doesn’t mean censoring ourselves, but instead thinking before we add to our digital tattoos. Because like tattoos, what we post on the internet never really goes away.

Police in Schools – SST’s Theresa Campbell weighs in

Theresa Campbell, President and CEO of Safer Schools Together, spoke to CKNW’s Lynda Steele about the debate surrounding the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools. Campbell cited the 2018 study conducted by Carleton University’s Dr. Linda Duxbury and Dr. Craig Bennell that concluded, “Peel Regional Police’s $9-million School Resource Officer (SRO) program reducing crime and bullying while providing extensive social and economic benefits estimated at 11 times the cost.”

Click here to listen.

Digital safety for today’s schools and families

Our Senior Threat Analyst Nick Chernoff was recently featured on Safe and Sound Schools’ Tuesdays at the Table. Chernoff talked with Michelle Gay and her team about both the good and bad trends that we are seeing young people engage in online. Watch below for some of the ways parents can navigate the online world and help their children foster healthy connections during COVID-19.

Stereotypes bad predictors of school violence

Stereotypes bad predictors of school violence
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
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.”

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.

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

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

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:

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


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,, 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.