These are my notes from the opening session at the 10th annual “Safe and Healthy Schools” conference in Oklahoma City on November 10, 2008, in Oklahoma City. Safe and Health Schools is sponsored by The Oklahoma Department of Education. MY THOUGHTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

– NOTES BEGIN –

Demand for Crystal Meth has not gone done in Oklahoma, although enforcement efforts have been stepped up and more labs have been shut down

www.crystaldarknessoklahoma.org

This documentary will be aired in Oklahoma on Jan 13th, 2009 at 6 pm CST on Oklahoma television

MY THOUGHT: WILL THIS BE AVAILABLE LATER AS AN ON-DEMAND DOWNLOAD ONLINE? IF NOT IT SHOULD BE.

28 min documentary on how meth has affected children and our families
- working with this documentary for months
- watch parties are being sponsored around the state for this documentary
- town hall meetings in churches and other community locations are encouraged

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics would be glad to provide free speakers, curriculum, and professional development

Senate Bill 1941: Bill about cyberbullying, lockdown drills, etc

Dr. Nancy Willard is here to present a workshop, is going to share a few thoughts
- director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use (www.cyberbully.org)
- These are Nancy’s opening comments for our conference before breakout sessions begin

“The young people who are at greatest risk online are the ones who are already at greater risk in the “real world”

I TOTALLY AGREE AND HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR

We have fear / techno-panic that is disproportionate to the risk
- we also have non-factual fear

research is clear: young epople face far greater risks from peers and known people than strangers

Almost everything you have heard about online sexual predators is WRONG
- very few incidents
- predators do not target children
- predators do not decieve about age or sexual intention
- predators do not track and abduct teens based on personal information

No indication of increasing stranger danger online now
- predators get others to talk about sex online

NO ONE has documented even ONE CASE where predators are tracking and abducting teens based on personal info

predators:
- target emotionally vulnerable or “seeking” teens
- teens meet knowing they are men and knowing they will engage in sex
- 75% girls, 25% boys
- likely that acquaintance abusers are now using technology to groom and control victims (this is Nancy’s opinion, there is not data on this yet)

MOST NOT AT RISK
- the vast majority of teens appear to be making good choices online
- report healthy responses to negative online incidents
- are not distressed by these incidents
- but some ARE at risk!

Risky sexual activities
- sexual harassment
- online activity leading to “sexual hook ups”
- students creating and disseminating child pornography of themselves online
- use of porn in abusive relationships

Cyberbullying
- repeated and/or widely disseminated cruel material using communication technologies that causes emotional distress
- continuation of in-person bullying
- in retaliation for in-person bullying
- issues of disparity of power are being addressed online: retaliation by victims in many cases

Unsafe communities
- online communities that support self-harm
- anorexia or bulimia
- self-cutting
- drug or steroid use
- suicide

“the unsafe community issue”

Online groups that foster hatred or support illegal behavior
- hate groups
- gangs
- hacker groups
- pornography groups

Virtually every issue being addressed F2F at this conference is an issue and taking place online

underlying factors
- posting material online that can lead to harm of self or others

cyber-distress
- if a young person is emotionally distraught it is highly likely that he or she has posted online material that will provide evidence of risk and risk factors

Does this pose risk
- Red Lake Shooter, Eric Harris
- they all had very disturbing information online
- if you have a teen walk into your counseling office and say “so and so has posted

I hear stories of counselors who have to go to their local StarBucks to try and access teen websites which are reported by peers
- the only people who can often show content that is locked behind protected profiles, however, are the reporting teens themselves

we have to make it easy and comfortable for students to report
- it does not violate CIPA for you to bypass the filter at your school
- bypasses are documented

THIS IS A RESTATED CASE OF WHAT I’VE CALLED BEFORE “THE CASE FOR DIFFERENTIATED CONTENT FILTERING IN SCHOOLS”
- NANCY SAID SCHOOLS’ FAILURE TO PROVIDE THIS TYPE OF FILTER BYPASS FOR COUNSELORS AND TEACHERS CAN AMOUNT TO INDIFFERENCE TO STUDENT THREATS / DANGERS IN THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT AND CAN HAVE LIABILITY IMPLICATIONS FOR SCHOOLS

current internet safety messages
- fear-based messages
- not grounded in fact
- simplistic rules about personal information and strangers
- warning against normative behaviors
- approaches like the DARE approach are KNOWN to be ineffective!

My new approach
- address youth risk online within safe schools
- expand committee to include
– educational technology
– internet crimes
– public library, youth services

Have new requirements under E-Rate program that schools do E-Rate
- if that ends up in the hands of edtech people that is a PROBLEM because they don’t understand or know the research (in many cases) on youth risk
- so this is a place where edtech people need to get together / combine forces with prevention staff

Recent presentation to Washington State Librarians
- telling of young people coming into library who are drop outs or skipping class
- they get a lot of at risk youth at the public library, on the computers
- many librarians don’t know how to deal with them
- recommendation was for school librarians to talk with public librarians

we need to assess youth risk online behavior in manner similar to YRB survey
- coordinate collection so we can identify risk and protective factors

Under safe schools initiative
- requires initiatives meet standards to achieve a waiver of Principles of Effectiveness
- no research-based based practices
- implement research-grounded approach with evaluation

I hope you realize all your teens can bypass your Internet filter
- Nancy is working on narrated slideshow presentations
- Cyber-Savvy Teens: A Guide for Parents
- Cyber-Savvy Teens
- focusing more on digital citizenship, where students are both creators and consumers of content

— END OF NOTES —

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  • http://www.21apples.org arvind

    Wes, thanks for these great notes. I know how hard it is to take notes while a panel is going on. This reaffirms much of what I’ve been trying to say to administrators and parents over the last couple of years. The “big” experts are all saying this, and have been for some time now:
    http://www.21apples.org/articles/2007/05/16/the-real-truth-about-teens-and-online-social-networks
    and they’re finally getting more traction.

    The real trouble has always been kids who are getting into trouble. The computer, the Internet, has little to do with it.

    The no documented cases line is also very interesting, and not at all what many law enforcement officers have said during presentations I’ve watched. That’s mainly because they’re involved in sting investigations luring people in. They’ve never mentioned real cases where they caught perpetrators, per se.

  • http://ahlness.com Mark Ahlness

    Heard this years ago. Leading with fear nets a very different result than leading with promise and potential. Ugh. – Mark

  • http://digitalteaching4learning.blogspot.com/ cmitton

    Several lines in your notes really made me think. Specifically, the idea that those who are the most at-risk online are also the most at-risk offline really resonates. It makes sense to me, but it’s not an idea that I’ve ever thought about in depth before—and I think it’s something that administrators and parents need to hear and think about as well.

    That information coupled with some of the facts from this testimony is contradictory to everything I’ve heard so far. If programs like DARE are ineffective, does that mean the NetSmartz, iSafe, etc. are also a waste of instructional time? Would we be better off building strong, open communication lines between students and adults so that they are more likely to share instances of cyber bullying, stalking, harassment, etc? I’m really rethinking how I teach internet safety to my students now!

  • George D.

    In response to cmitton: I do appreciate the notion of focusing on open lines of communication. I have used many of these safety programs in my classroom and their goal is to strengthen communication between adults and youth. These safety programs create the foundation in which to have these open forms of communication. Without them in place, how do you suggest we facilitate these conversations?

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