Dear Parents and Guardians,
As a parent or guardian of a student in grades 5 through 9, this email is inviting you to attend what I would consider one of the most important informational meetings we have ever offered. Your son or daughter has grown up with social media (Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.) and, due to the isolation of COVID, many students have turned to social media even more than they have in the past.
While social media has some wonderful uses, we, as a school district, have some concerns based on what we have been seeing over the past year. Our administrators, counselors, and teachers have seen a significant increase in cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, and racism over social media platforms. The specific incidents are often happening outside of the school. However, the “fallout” over posts and chats is carrying over into school. Our school psychologist and social worker have done more threat assessments (based upon threatening harm to themselves or others) so far this year than they have done in previous school years – approximately 90% of these incidents have involved social media outside of school.
Additionally, we have had incidents where students think they are “talking” to other students over social media when in fact, they are being preyed upon by adults. Some of these situations can be handled by the school and parents/guardians, while others require us to involve the authorities.
We have been addressing and will continue to address these concerns through guidance classes, working with parents, and bringing in guest speakers. We would also like to be more proactive and engage in a discussion with parents prior to any issues. Many parents were not born into the “social media” world and are not as tech-savvy as our children, therefore, might not know what questions to ask or what to monitor.
On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm in the high school auditorium, we invite you to attend a social media presentation by social media experts from the State College Police Department and the PA State Police. They will be presenting information and answering questions you might have. We would like for you to take a brief survey telling us that you will be attending and letting us know if there are specific topics or questions you would like addressed. While it is not necessary to complete the survey in order to attend the presentation, doing so will help us make the presentation as meaningful as possible. The survey can be found at Social Media Survey.
If you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email the building principals or me at [email protected] or 814-422-2000.