Tips for Identifying Student Safety Threats in Your School’s Digital Environment

Now more than ever, it is imperative we take steps to ensure our schools are safe.

Academic performance aside, the pandemic has left many students feeling isolated, angry, and anxious. More than one in three high school students (37.1%) experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 44.2% of students experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness and almost 20% seriously considering suicide.

While many aspects may feel out of our control when it comes to protecting our kids, there are measures educators can take to promote safety in our classrooms.

And it all starts with monitoring for warning signs.

Monitoring Student Behavior for Warning Signs

The average American teen spends between 7 and 14 hours a day online. In order to promote safety, it’s important we’re aware of how our kids are spending that time.

Of all the threats present online, cyberbullying is a leading one for students today. In the ‘80s or ‘90s, if you were being bullied, you could simply walk home a different way or sit at a different table in the cafeteria. Now, kids are being bullied from across town, across the country, or across the world – and many feel they have nowhere to turn to combat these issues.

Despite the fact that 60% of young people say they’ve witnessed online bullying, most admit they do not intervene. This is where monitoring the digital interactions of our students can make a big difference.

In addition to monitoring for cyberbullying, gaining visibility into our students’ interactions can also help prevent future tragedies. Many students leave a digital trail when considering harmful acts, whether in their search history or on social media. Aside from visible indicators such as mental illness, depression, and direct or indirect statements of intent to harm, a student’s digital behavior can provide a glimpse into feelings they are not showing on the surface.

At-Risk Students: What Are They Searching?

Monitoring students’ online search queries can uncover pain beneath the surface no one else knows about.

Such searches might include:

  • “how to cope with depression”
  • “can I report my mom for emotional abuse”
  • “why am I depressed”

If searches like these are identified for a particular student, a responsible adult can have time to intervene with help from a mental health professional.

At-Risk Students: What Are They Posting?

In a more visible manner, students may also take to social media to post about their mental illness or about their intent to harm themselves or others. This could be seen as a cry for help. A student might also post to online forums or on social media.

Tools for Monitoring Student Behavior

While it’s impossible to manually keep an eye on every students’ online behavior, tools like GoGuardian, Securly, and Linewize can help.

GoGuardian Beacon monitors students’ activity on school-issued devices across search engines, social media, email, and more to identify students who are most at risk of self-harm or possible harm to others through threats, violence, and bullying. Beacon uses predictive AI to alert schools during the most serious “active planning” phase of suicide intent.

Once alerted, Beacon can also bring in the right school responders, help notify parents after hours, and provide students directly with the resources they need. Alerts come with context to help you determine what caused them and how best to take action, including screenshots, the phase of suicide and self-harm ideation, historical activity, and highlighted text.

Currently serving more than 15,000 schools, Securly is another leading option in helping prevent cyberbullying and suicide, striving to keep students safe across all devices with cloud-based web filtering and AI-based scanning of emails, Docs, and Drive. Like GoGuardian, it also sends alerts of behavior directly pertaining to cyberbullying and suicide.

Linewize Monitor is another advanced student threat detection tool for K-12, helping districts spot at-risk students through 24/7 real-time alerts and notifications and risk detection across seven different categories, including violence, bullying, suicide, drugs, abuse, extremism, and oversharing. Linewize helps flag at-risk students based on what they say or do in their digital lives and can help get ahead of preventable tragedies.

Unlike other monitoring softwares that are all cloud-based, Linewize is a locally installed tool. This means it can keep a watchful eye on all activity on a student’s computer. If a student were to use the notepad in their computer to ideate harm to themselves or others, Linewize could detect that activity and prompt an appropriate response from adults in the school.

Trafera’s goal is to keep students safe, secure, and productive – no matter where they are. Contact us today to learn more about protecting your students this schoolyear and beyond.