At Stride, we're deeply committed to helping children reach their full potential. I believe a big part of this effort must involve keeping our kids safe. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and we're focused on providing insights, tools, and resources that can aid in protecting our kids on school grounds and online. Not only have we partnered with Pacer for their #stopbullying campaign, but on my "What I Want to Know" podcast, we have a great lineup of guests discussing school security, digital safety, and cyberbullying.
After the devastating school shooting in Ulvade, Texas this summer, so many of us have been grappling with how we can better safeguard kids at school. We must be vigilant of physical dangers while also addressing emotional and psychological dangers, including bullying, which has taken on new forms in the digital age.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed, but with the help of the following guests, I hope to shed light on practical, effective ways we can support and protect our kids. Be sure to tune into these episodes.
"How can police best serve and protect schools?" (Season 3: Episode 71)
Guest: Chief Ronald Applin, Atlanta Public Schools Police Department
Chief Ronald Applin of the Atlanta Public Schools Police Department joined me to discuss the role police play in schools and how their presence can help students. He shares incredible insight on the ways school officers must balance emotional support for students with being pillars of safety and security. As schools adjust their security policies in response to horrific school shootings nationwide, many are wondering about the role of police in schools.
We touch on whether it is necessary to have armed security on every campus, and what is the appropiate role for officers when it comes to safety, discipline, and education. Chief Applin believes it's important for officers to work on building relationships and dialogue. His officers get trained in social emotional learning — and though they're prepared to switch into "warrior mode" in the case of serious threats — it helps kids to know that officers can be supportive in other ways as well.
"How can we keep kids safe online?" (Season 3: Episode 70 and Bonus)
Guest: Titania Jordan, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Parent Officer, Bark Technologies
As a senior executive for a learning technology platform and host of an education focused podcast reaching nearly 1 million listeners, I recognize the immense value of online learning tools and digital platforms. Still, there are elements to the Internet that can put our kids at risk. In this day and age, when kids are often more technologically savvy than their parents, it can be challenging to monitor their use of common devices. That's why I knew it was important to discuss digital safety with Titania Jordan of Bark Technologies, a parental control app. She provided a wealth of knowledge on the subject and the conversation was so good, we had to put some of it into a bonus episode.
During our digital safety discussion, Titania gave great advice on things like how to gauge the appropriate amount of screen time (her tip: make sure they spend more time being creative or productive versus consuming content). If it seems like a teen is addicted to their phone, chances are they could be. Games and social media can stimulate the brain in ways that are similar to cocaine or sexual activity, according to Titania.
In our bonus episode, "Tech Tips with Titania," she goes into more detail, like simple ways parents can be more aware of their kid's online activities and put safeguards in place. As Titania reminds us, it is our job to keep children safe — not only in the real world, but also in the digital world. Educators, these are great episodes to share with your parents to help equip them to keep kids safer online.
"How can we protect kids against cyberbullying?" (Season 3: Episode 72)
Guest: Dr. Justin Patchin, Co-founder of the Cyberbullying Research Center
We couldn't talk about how to #stopbullying without delving further into the issue of cyberbullying. Dr. Justin Patchin is a pioneer in this space and co-founder of the Cyberbullying Research Center. Their 2021 study found that 45% of middle and highschoolers in the U.S. had been cyberbullied in their lifetime, and 14% of students admitted to cyberbullying someone else.
As our youth interact on social media platforms, popular games with chat functions, and video-sharing sites, cyberbullying has never been more widespread. Justin explains what makes cyberbullying unique and how it can affect students' ability to learn and feel safe at school.
He notes that kids are a lot less aware of the impact of their actions online. Justin emphasizes that we must be proactive in teaching kids about what empathy looks like online, encouraging youth to be responsible for digital behavior, and being attentive to their online activities.
On that note, I invite you to highlight National Day of Unity on Oct. 19 (#UnityDay2022), to promote kindness, courage, and inclusion. And don't miss each of this month's Keeping Kids Safe episodes on "What I Want to Know," so you can be equipped with bullying prevention and safety tips for school and online.
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