Recently, a young man threatened to carry out a shooting at his school using “Burn Book”, a social media application that lets users anonymously report their thoughts. The student was quickly identified and charged with making a terrorist threat. After the arrest, the school implemented a number of procedures, including increased police presence, mandatory bag searches and metal detectors to ensure the environment was safe.
Events like this are all too common in our schools. Even though many of these scenarios go unreported due to low severity and quick resolution, these types of situations can quickly get out of hand – turning a seemingly simple event into an emergency scenario. The important takeaway from these situations is to learn how school administrators, parents and other students can learn and improve the future safety of our schools.
Students are using social media in a way that their parents and teachers cannot begin to comprehend. Many students view social media as an unlimited and anonymous platform for their expression, both good or bad. But social media can also be used as a force of good at school. Police, school administration, teachers, parents and students can use social media to identify criminals, gather evidence, and prevent crimes.
According to an article by SciTechConnect, “a 2012 LexisNexis survey found that 80 percent of police officers that used social media to investigate crimes were self-taught. The same survey found that social media evidence utilized to get search warrants stood up to challenges in 87 percent of the time.”
If adult stakeholders in education do not learn to utilize social media to their advantage, they run the risk of falling dangerously behind in understanding today’s youth. Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, endorses using a holistic approach to school safety, citing that “understanding technology is a key component to keeping our children safe.”