Internet Safety Discussion in the AB School District

Acton Forum contacted the Acton Police Department about their involvement in the public schools and how they discuss online safety. We thank them for providing the following summary.

The Acton Police Department has a pair of daytime SRO’s (School Resource Officers) assigned to the Acton Boxborough School District. The team is comprised of Detective Keith Campbell and Detective Michael Eracleo. Both possess a wealth of training and experience in handling youth related issues.

Both Detective Campbell and Eracleo have been able to build rapport with students, by spending quality time in the classroom, and taking part in their recess and lunch activities. With good reason, a tremendous amount of the SRO’s time is spent on the topic of internet safety. While Detective Eracleo focuses his instructions at the elementary level, Detective Campbell addresses the matter at both the Junior High and High School levels.

By creating this partnership with the schools, the SRO’s are able to quickly respond when an incident takes place, inside or outside of school. The school can also request that the SRO speak with individual students, an entire classroom or the grade as a whole in order to reaffirm the virtues of being safe online.

The main message in which the SRO’s want to get across to the students is to encourage them to be “up-standers” and not “by-standers” when it comes to something they see online that they feel is inappropriate. One of the methods employed by the SRO’s is to teach the “5 R’s” of internet safety: Represent, Repost, Remove, Report and Restrict.

It is the goal of the SRO’s to have the students understand that sharing/liking/reposting a photo or comment creates an online persona that they need to be aware of and proud of. Removing, reporting or restricting access to their accounts through the use of security features can ensure the student remains a “Good Online Citizen”. The students are reminded that the internet has a lot of positives to offer, but it can also present challenges and danger if they are not careful.

Starting in the 6th grade, Detective Eracleo discusses peer pressure with students using the School District’s I-Safe curriculum. The I-Safe Program helps students develop skills for dealing with drug and alcohol situations as well as challenges they may face using social media. Det. Eracleo uses real life examples and classroom activities to give students tools that will help them deal with the hurdles that all teenagers face. By spending so much time in the classroom, Detective Eracleo is able to build lasting relationships with students. These relationships are imperative to the overall mission to have open and honest dialogue with the students.

Detective Campbell continues this effort by delivering a similar message at the Junior High. Throughout the year, he makes routine visits to the 7th grade Digital Literacy classes. There, he is able to further discuss current trends in social media as well as overall online safety. Detective Campbell cites specific examples from current events and relevant cases he has investigated in order to provide students with greater insight on how to avoid similar troubles. Detective Campbell also responds to specific incidents involving cyber-bullying at the High School and Junior High. Along with the school, he is able to work directly with those students affected, as well as their parents, to make sure mistakes aren’t repeated. The constant communication between School District and the SRO’s is a key to providing students with the abilities to be mindful of their own behavior, but to also empower them to report when their classmates may be targeted.

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