Digital citizenship training, behavioral threat assessment programs and state tip lines are some of the technology-focused tools currently in use to help ensure safe and healthy learning environments in our nation’s schools, according to participants in a recent congressional briefing.
The National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training and the National Association of School Psychologists presented the Oct. 9 briefing session for members of Congress and their staff.
The 90-minute session explored the ways school principals and school mental health professionals use viral videos, counseling web sites, database analysis, diagnostic tests, email screening and other technology to proactively identify and treat students at risk for mental health issues and to prevent self-harm, bullying and school violence.
School counselors, school psychologists, school superintendents and school principals from around the country attended the session to provide the latest information on this high-priority issue. A panel of education practitioners discussed the ways they use technology in their efforts to keep their schools safe, as well as the impact of privacy law on their work.
The Technology Tools
Panel members reported that digital citizenship training, a curriculum designed to help students learn to become better digital citizens, offers instruction in the appropriate, responsible use of technology and can help to keep students safe from internet predators and online bullying.
In addition, they said, behavioral threat assessment programs and state tip lines have become critical elements in securing the nation’s schools.
Threat-assessment teams receive reports about students or situations of concern, gather additional information, assess the risk to the school community and develop intervention and management strategies designed to mitigate that risk.
The threat-assessment teams are an outgrowth of a joint U.S. Secret Service/Department of Education Safe Schools Initiative launched in June 1999. The initiative was developed to explore the potential for adapting the threat-assessment investigative process developed by the Secret Service to the problem of school violence.
State Tip Lines
States across the country are responding to high-profile school shootings and rising teen suicide rates by creating tip lines. These programs aim to prevent dangerous behavior in schools, including bullying or a student’s attempt to harm others or themselves.
All of the incoming tips are passed on to school districts and local officials and all of the tips are investigated. Any and all threats are taken seriously. Many of the investigations result in counseling sessions involving a student and a professional school counselor or include the involvement of local law enforcement officials.
What You Can Do
To help reduce violence in schools and create a safer learning environment, your ACA government affairs team is hard at work advocating on your behalf for the creation and establishment of more school counseling programs and the reduction of student-to-school-counselor ratios.
If you would like to help, ask your representative in the House to support the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act (H.R. 6775) and ask your senators to support the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act (S. 3427).
You can find contact information for your elected representatives in Washington by clicking here, scrolling to the bottom of the page to the “Find Officials” box and entering your address and Zip Code.