DHS, Departments of Ed, DOJ, Health and Human Services Launch SchoolSafety.gov Cyber Security Education Website
CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the DHS) has announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, working with the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice and Health and Human Services, recently launched SchoolSafety.gov, a website devoted to helping K-12 schools respond to a wide variety of emergency situations and help keep the kids in our schools and communities safe.
In March of 2018, the Federal Commission on School Safety was created and released a report in December of that year recommending that a clearinghouse be established as a hub for safety strategies and resources that schools and parents may take advantage of, and SchoolSafety.gov is a result of that decision.
SchoolSafety.gov includes a fact sheet that details several specific cyber safety concerns regarding the internet and the possible dangers it poses to the public and students in particular. The fact sheet outlines some of the risks of going online, details steps schools can take to educate parents and students alike, and encourages schools to create and implement policies that can possibly help prevent some of these dangers.
The website features articles on many topics, such as bullying and cyberbullying, and has links to resources to help schools (and parents) recognize and deal with cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is any bullying that occurs using cellphones, tablets or computers. Cyberbullying can take may forms, but can include sharing negative, embarrassing or false information about someone else, via text, social media apps, and gaming, and in some instances can be considered unlawful or criminal behavior.
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There are many recommendations for how to combat or possibly prevent cyberbullying. Be vigilant about your awareness of a child or teen’s online presence and behavior, and make sure they know your rules for appropriate online behavior and that you’ll be monitoring theirs; Check and review their phone settings, including phone location and phone sharing. Keep their computer or laptop in an open area of your house. Follow them on their social media apps, or have another trusted adult follow them (they may not want their mom or dad as their “friend”!). Download a tracking app to their phone so you know where they are at all times. Know current teen and digital “slang.” Always know your child or teen’s passwords for all of their apps and email accounts.
In addition to the vigilance that schools and parents should be demonstrating regarding cyberbullying, teens and children themselves should also be made aware of the seriousness of the issue of cyberbullying. Much has been documented regarding the permanence of all that is online, and it is true: Any content shared online will be available to everyone in the future, including universities, employers and anyone else wishing to delve into an individual’s past. This means that whether a teen or child is the bully or the person being bullied, the bullying will follow them.
CISA itself has additional resources on Keeping Children Safe Online and Dealing with Cyberbullies, where you can find more tips to combat cyber threats, some as simple as just being engaged with your child or teen’s daily life as much as possible.