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R-H Reinforces Importance of Online Safety

Local and national news have been covering a social media concern that is alarming to parents and could be harmful to students. While there are questions as to its authenticity, we do believe that this recent increase in online safety concerns provides an opportunity to revisit students’ online behaviors in school and at home.

This concern allegedly involves a fictitious video character that challenges viewers to contact them via private message and then perform acts to avoid being “cursed.” These acts are said to include self-harm. The initial contact for this challenge is rumored to be embedded within YouTube clips that may originally appear to be harmless. It is being said that students of all ages may have had contact with the challenge. So far, there has been scant evidence of this.

Rest assured, Rush-Henrietta takes the online safety of our students seriously. Our district incorporates digital citizenship into our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at all grade levels. In fact, we just celebrated Digital Citizenship Week in all of our schools, February 11-15, during which different positive behaviors and expectations were reinforced with students. Information was also shared with parents on ways to incorporate these behaviors at home. Efforts like these that reinforce appropriate use of technology help our students build a solid foundation that helps them navigate the digital world.

In our consistent effort to keep students safe online and help them make responsible choices when using school-issued Chromebooks, Rush-Henrietta utilizes a variety of monitoring software. This software provides increased visibility into how our students are using these devices, as well as their school-assigned accounts both in and out of school. For example, it provides the ability to filter inappropriate or dangerous content. This content filtering applies to district-owned Chromebooks and when students are signed into their school accounts on personal computers. It is always on no matter where the student is, whether at school, at home, or elsewhere.

As parents/guardians, you can and should be discussing your own expectations regarding electronic device usage with your children, including what they should do if they see something online that concerns them. If you would like some tips for talking to your children about online safety, NetSmartz.org has tip sheets for parents on protecting your children online and protecting your children on social media. For additional resources from the organization regarding internet safety, click here.

As always, if you or your student have any concerns, please contact your child’s principal.