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  • That's a good question. How do you balance the safety of students against the privacy of an individual?

    Spice (26) flagReport
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  • Article didn't load for me, but will weigh in on the topic. I think it is a great idea. Often people will not seek help if they are thinking about self harm or suicide. Being able to get people the care they need before it is too late is a win in my book. I do not think it should be left to the IT department to decipher or take action. Again, I couldn't get to the article, but is there a way to generate reports to someone that is better trained to handle these issues? It should be left to people that are trained or have the resources to investigate and help the individuals that are in need.

    I wonder if other filters will add similar features.

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  • Not sure how I look at that, as a kid I was into Death Metal, Extreme sports, and more than a few other interests to could trigger flags like that.  Was I a candidate for suicide, nope.  The real dilemma is that kids who are a real danger won't be operating in places where monitors will matter. Kids who are in real danger, won't be open about what they are doing, it will happen in their "safe places" monitoring in school networks aren't going to really help.  It needs to be in homes, private devices etc, and then it starts getting intrusive and many will be opposed.

    It's not a bad Idea, just not an easy one to implement effectively.

    Spice (53) flagReport
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  • My question isn't if this should be done, it's who should review the results and how is all of that kept private from a HIPAA perspective. Minors don't really have privacy, per se, nor do i think they should. I would not, however, want other kids finding out something about one student and then that student starts getting bullied, etc.

    Spice (20) flagReport
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  • As someone who lost their best friend to suicide, I've got to agree with Frostbyte.  Looking back, there MIGHT have been signs.. but they were buried and obscured, at best.  Absolutely invisible at worst.  Mental Health needs to be a bubble approach.  It's not just school, not just home.  But school and home should be on the same page.  And so should friends and family.  Things can sometimes get away from someone and before they know it, things get bad.  And before anyone finds out they're bad, things get worse.

    Spice (19) flagReport
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  • Denis Kelley wrote:

    That's a good question. How do you balance the safety of students against the privacy of an individual?


    If it is on a school's network, there should be an acceptable use policy that states traffic will be monitored. Not sure it is evasion of privacy if you are using school owned equipment and have signed the agreement.

    At the same time, I can see the argument against that and favor privacy.

    Spice (14) flagReport
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  • Ross42. wrote:

    My question isn't if this should be done, it's who should review the results and how is all of that kept private from a HIPAA perspective. Minors don't really have privacy, per se, nor do i think they should. I would not, however, want other kids finding out something about one student and then that student starts getting bullied, etc.

    Kept private in a school?  Have the reports use Student ID numbers instead of names.  IT generates the reports with IDs.  Issue reports to Guidance / Psych counsel.  Guidance / Psych has access to who is who by ID.  Reports are properly marked and destroyed.

    Spice (21) flagReport
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  • Frodrick wrote:

    Denis Kelley wrote:

    That's a good question. How do you balance the safety of students against the privacy of an individual?


    If it is on a school's network, there should be an acceptable use policy that states traffic will be monitored. Not sure it is evasion of privacy if you are using school owned equipment and have signed the agreement.

    At the same time, I can see the argument against that and favor privacy.

    Few off the top of my head thoughts.

    1) If you were the parent of a child that committed suicide and the school could have prevented it, would you have given your permission for the school to do so?
    2) Isn't a school expected to act in loco parentis?
    3) At what point does someone become an individual with all the rights? From birth? When they reach a certain age? Something else?
    Spice (15) flagReport
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  • Few off the top of my head thoughts.

    1) If you were the parent of a child that committed suicide and the school could have prevented it, would you have given your permission for the school to do so?
    2) Isn't a school expected to act in loco parentis?
    3) At what point does someone become an individual with all the rights? From birth? When they reach a certain age? Something else?


    On the flip side,

    1) If you were the parent of a child that was flagged but there was no danger, would you be upset? I have seen parents get upset at schools for far less of an offense. Personally I would not but I am also a rational person (I think so anyway).

    2) No. They are not a replacement for a parent and should not act as one toward a student. There are there to facilitate learning and to provide structure and boundaries while on the school premises. Teachers should not be parenting their students.

    3) Man that is tricky hah! So much grey area that I cannot even attempt.

    Spice (12) flagReport
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  • One problem I see is if a school reports that a student is at risk and those assertions are false, is anyone going to be accountable for the misdiagnosis? Basically, if someone at the school informs the parents that their child has been searching this and that and this hints to suicidal thoughts, you will scare the parents. What then if they take their child to get evaluated and find out nothing is wrong? Parents would lose trust in the school for putting them through all this. I know some schools actually have psychologists on staff but do schools have the right to venture into the area of mental health? 

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  • Frodrick wrote:

    Few off the top of my head thoughts.

    1) If you were the parent of a child that committed suicide and the school could have prevented it, would you have given your permission for the school to do so?
    2) Isn't a school expected to act in loco parentis?
    3) At what point does someone become an individual with all the rights? From birth? When they reach a certain age? Something else?


    On the flip side,

    1) If you were the parent of a child that was flagged but there was no danger, would you be upset? I have seen parents get upset at schools for far less of an offense. Personally I would not but I am also a rational person (I think so anyway).

    2) No. They are not a replacement for a parent and should not act as one toward a student. There are there to facilitate learning and to provide structure and boundaries while on the school premises. Teachers should not be parenting their students.

    1) I'd rather be flagged and it be a false positive.
    2) Legally, a school is expected to act in loco parentis in the UK (and possibly the EU). In loco parentis is a duty of protection. Looks like they are expected to act that way in the US as well - http://usedulaw.com/345-in-loco-parentis.html

    As an aside, schools are already flagging children's Internet usage at school for terrorism/racism
    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • Frodrick wrote:

    Denis Kelley wrote:

    That's a good question. How do you balance the safety of students against the privacy of an individual?


    If it is on a school's network, there should be an acceptable use policy that states traffic will be monitored. Not sure it is evasion of privacy if you are using school owned equipment and have signed the agreement.

    At the same time, I can see the argument against that and favor privacy.

    The article says this monitoring happens when the laptops are taken home, which is typically when those searches happen. Which also brings up the fact that kids with parents who can afford other 'personal devices' won't use the school's laptop, so this almost 'targets' (not the right word) the kids who are poorer and only have the school's laptop to use.

    Spice (7) flagReport
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  • Rabbert Klein wrote:

    Parents would lose trust in the school for putting them through all this. I know some schools actually have psychologists on staff but do schools have the right to venture into the area of mental health? 

    Maybe this is when it needs to start? We can't catch the issues in adults unless they turn themselves in for help right? And a counselor can/should make a relatively good case for mental help, and then make that recommendation to parents. From there, it's really up to the parents to get expert help.

    Spice (3) flagReport
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  • This weekend I was out with friends. In the past few weeks, because of account sharing on an iphone/ipad and a facebook message popup, it turns out their daughter had older boys asking her for 'pictures' of herself, and that another girl had been bullying her, saying things like she should do everyone a favour and kill herself etc. 

    My friend complained to the school about the messages other students had been sending to her, and social services got involved. An inspection of her room then followed and they found items that she had planned to use to hang herself... she is 12 years old!

    The girl in question is lovely, and I can't believe that people could drive a 12 y.o to think that she had to kill herself.

    I don't have children, but when I do, I will do everything in my power to make sure my kids are never manipulated by some sick/twisted individual, and if thats means whilst they live in my house their privacy is limited, so be it!

    Spice (17) flagReport
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  • JCheetham wrote:

    This weekend I was out with friends. In the past few weeks, because of account sharing on an iphone/ipad and a facebook message popup, it turns out their daughter had older boys asking her for 'pictures' of herself, and that another girl had been bullying her, saying things like she should do everyone a favour and kill herself etc. 

    Great point, it does look for signs of bullying as well, not just self-harm.

    Spice (3) flagReport
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  • We need more data to know if this is a good thing or not.  Like any medical test you need to know:

    1. The false positive rate

    2. The false negative rate

    3. The cost of the testing (both the software and the societal privacy cost)

    4. The cost of not doing anything

    For example, PSA prostate testing is on the hotseat as to whether it is worth the cost:

    http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20130408/most-men-dont-need-psa-tests-doctors-group-says

    Spice (10) flagReport
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  • When you operate your schools like a prison and/or a psychiatric institution, you should not be surprised when the students begin behaving like criminals and/or nutcases. 

    Spice (3) flagReport
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  • Some good arguments on both sides, I agree with Huw3481 that I'd rather get some falsely identifying information on a student and maybe have a parent get upset than to have another parent lose a child when it may have been prevented.

    Personally I have certain key words set on our filter (e.g. "suicide" "kill youself") that aren't blocked and don't give any indication to the student, but I get an email notification.  I don't want to spook a kid who is contemplating suicide with a block page, nor do I want a kid who is looking up the band Suicide Silence or something to think s/he's going to get a call from the school.

    Is this an invasion of privacy?  We're of course legally covered by our AUP and all, but this is really a question of ethics rather than legality.  I try not to give students a "reasonable expectation of privacy", in other words they shouldn't have any illusion that we can't or won't look into their history, web activity, searches etc.  And while that's the case and a few people above have said that kids won't use school equipment or resources to show any signs of suicidal intent, I don't think that's true.  I've never uncovered serious evidence of suicide, but we've not had a suicide while I've been here either, and judging from the amount of inappropriate searches, activity, selfies etc I know that while they have no reason to think we won't find that stuff they do it anyway.

    Good discussion and a very real threat to teens, especially now.

    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • I'm assuming that this sort of system would apply greatly for both middle and higher education facilities.  I definitely see the moral implications, and your concerns about this becoming an IT responsibility.

    However, it's a human responsibility.  Yes, under the current law in may places.  Good Samaritan laws are all about watching out for the well being of others.  As one of the cornerstones of western society is suicide=bad, this can be a very positive step in regards to technology providing real benefits to the quality of human life.  Not just as individuals, but overall.

    As far as children's privacy rights, children don't really have rights to privacy.  Current society may argue an implied right to privacy.  But, it has always been expressly written into statutes and contracts bound by votes and parent/guardian signatures that children using facilities such as libraries, schools, public recreational facilities, and other amenities, have no right to or expectations of privacy.  This has been so that such facilities could watch over and protect our children as we enroll them into such places that might qualify as intermediate care and/or recreation/enrichment while parents work to provide for the home.  This system pre-dates our modern 20th and 21st century technology and laissez-faire parenting. 

    Remember, a person does not have full custody of their own rights until they reach the age of majority (18).  This is not something that is currently a matter of opinion.  In New Jersey, we were actually taught this and were legally obliged to sign acknowledgement of this fact.  We were also handed a copy of the criminal laws of the State of New Jersey and told that it was our responsibility to know them by graduation.  The school system bore no responsibility to teach them.  And again, we had to sign acknowledgement.  (Though, the way the system went about that was questionable at best.)

    Also, if we insist on treating suicidal thoughts as a disease or sickness that requires intervention, then this is a great tool in that fight. 

    Spice (5) flagReport
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  • Yeesh...seems like a liability nightmare....

    Would make more sense to have a person with counseling training or whatnot to be doing it.  By all rights IT can help set the system up....but the last thing I'd want to see would be "The IT guy" being the hall monitor here.  I'm trying to picture the fallout from an incident happening and the school board saying "Well Carl was supposed to be checking for that" like the students are logs from a server backup....

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  • The problem with filtering and the internet though is that most filters are crowd sourced, ie people suggest sites that they think "should" be blocked due to one reason or another, and it almost always results in legitimate sites being blocked. For example, in the past filters intended to protect children from things like porn, etc have been co-opted to also block sites on birth control because someone found the word penis objectionable.  Not to mention that if a kid wants to see something, they'll find a way :)

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  • In my opinion "the IT guy/girl" is not the person to see those logs. Because action needs to be taken based on its contents and those contents should only be interpreted by someone with either adequate field experience or proper training. If not done this way bad things will happen and then Carl will get blamed

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  • I've seen WebSense do stuff like this for over 10 years. keyword alert logging isn't new. The reporting logged who was using the machine, and what website they visited that tripped the alarm. The reports didn't go to IT, they went straight to the teacher of the class the PC was located in. If there were questionable items like suicide, it got forwarded to the counselors, and the teachers did not stick their noses in.

    People forget that in the US, students have -0- rights while in school (and this also causes problems). This has gone to court a lot of times in the 80's and 90's. The schools get to act in loco parentis while the student is on school grounds without a parent or guardian present.

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  • As a former public K12 admin, the school networks are heavily monitored and filtered due to laws already in place to protect students. Some of the debates we had while rolling out 1:1 devices was whether we should, or had to, enable our web filter on the devices when they left the building.

    As for using the tools to monitor activity and flagging it for things like suicide I would definitely say YES. We did some flagging through our filter at the time, but it wasn't specific but it would report keywords and such. As the IT person, I was not responsible for anything more other than reporting an issue and grabbing the logs. The principals and guidance counselors took over from there.  

    I actually had situation where a student brought their problematic laptop to my office. While fixing it I came across some video files of self-harming among other things. I reported it and the district got that student help. It was a school owned devices and students signed AUP. It was totally legit, but either way you couldn't make me feel guilty for finding those files or reporting them.  I know that student got the help they needed

    Spice (10) flagReport
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  • I would've gotten flagged for "Suicidal Tendancies"

    Wait, what are you talking about, we decided!?

    MY best interest?! How do you know what my best interest is?

    How can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to say, I'm crazy?

    When I went to your schools, I went to your churches,

    I went to your institutional learning facilities?! So how can you say I'm crazy?

    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • Rabbert Klein wrote:

    One problem I see is if a school reports that a student is at risk and those assertions are false, is anyone going to be accountable for the misdiagnosis? Basically, if someone at the school informs the parents that their child has been searching this and that and this hints to suicidal thoughts, you will scare the parents. What then if they take their child to get evaluated and find out nothing is wrong? Parents would lose trust in the school for putting them through all this. I know some schools actually have psychologists on staff but do schools have the right to venture into the area of mental health? 


    I see Rabbert's point here.  What if a student was researching suicide for a paper topic and the data was misinterpreted?  If I were that kid I would see it as something that my parents did not need to be involved in.   And I also agree with the Captain - kids that are a real risk would not be using a school computer to look up that subject.  There are real pros to implementing a system such as this but, kids contemplating suicide or other dark subjects (like the Columbine shooting) will not use public devices to research.
    Spice (1) flagReport
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  • Students don't deserve privacy on PCs at a school. There should be script settings in place and monitoring of what they're searching, simple as that. I like this approach.

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  • What if a child does commit suicide and the parents know that this system is in place but failed to catch it? Imagine the backlash. Potential lawsuits is all I see. I understand that a system like this is not perfect and can't catch it all but when there are grieving parents, they may be looking for someone to blame other than their child or themselves for not seeing all the signs that were right there in their faces. It's always easier to point to the finger.

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  • TechTrainer wrote:

     There are real pros to implementing a system such as this but, kids contemplating suicide or other dark subjects (like the Columbine shooting) will not use public devices to research.

    I disagree with this as a blanket statement. There will be kids that use public devices to do this kind of research. Any kids that don't have good access to a computer at home, or are too afraid of their parents seeing over their shoulder. A lot of students don't think about what their school IT sees. Heck, my engineering class in high school googled what it would take to make a nuclear bomb and the processes involved without thinking twice about doing it on a school computer (purely for research purposes of course). It certainly won't be all kids doing research, but there will be kids that get the help they need as a result of this. And as has been previously stated, we already (In the U.S.) monitor all web traffic they use on school devices so why not use a system that's already there to do some good?

    I think it's key not to demonize or make it feel to the kid like the monitoring for suicide is an attack on them though, as that would just make them go farther from the help they need to make it through.

    Any flagging that comes up would need to be reviewed by someone who can actually determine if there's likely a problem. Most IT professionals would not fit under this category, but we can certainly design a system with the help of professionals who do know what to look for.

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  • I wonder if there would be a way to generate an automatic alert on search history and forward it to the parent or a student counselor instead of IT being the middle man on that sensitive situation. Using technology to be more aware of problems before they arise makes sense everywhere else why not here. A computer program doesn't target specific people it would just report what it was programmed to. No system is perfect but this sounds like a good idea to me. 

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  • Denis Kelley wrote:

    That's a good question. How do you balance the safety of students against the privacy of an individual?

    Pretty simple. You use a EULA. Its not surprising considering the monetary risk. And if this shocks you, get ready for the bombshell of other things that companies you use daily collect on you...

    Hell that’s the cupcakes of creepy... If this is invasive to you VIDDY THIS!
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  • Also I think its misleading to say that the EDU IT team is monitoring this. This is 100% automated up to the contact point in which it generates the alert and someone follows up. Its not like IT eyes are crawling through the data.

    There was a great article in relation to Siri and her lack of ability to cope with traumatic issues like rape, incest, suicide and abuse on hacker news the other day. Similar vein.

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  • I don't get the argument for privacy at all here. You're a student (minor), using school devices, you have no privacy. As for a liability, I still don't think its a big deal. Maybe I'm naive but even if you get 50 false-positives, one true-positive should be enough to justify it (SHOULD.... ideally.... in a perfect world). Overreach? Please... I'm so sorry we took the time to appropriately address 50 false positives in the hope of saving a life...

    Student searches something, raises flag, alert is sent to IT person (which for my in HS was ALSO the librarian. He was part teacher, part librarian, part IT guy, and he kept Magic Cards and other nerdy interests for those of us who wanted to spend our lunches doing that. My school had it really good with him). From the alert you should be able to see what was being searched, yes? So from there you or the appropriate staff member should be able to tell if the student simply needs to be talked to or not. Report it to the appropriate powers, Maybe the student is doing research for a report. Ok, fine, no harm done. Maybe its more serious, heaven forbid we TALK to the kids!

    Kid searched 'Death Metal', fine whatever, moving on. Kid searched 'Suicide Techniques', K maybe talk to the point person and the student. Teachers should know their students. Maybe they were just curious, the point person can pull them aside and help answer questions. Maybe the point person thinks there's a concern, either handle it or move it up the ladder to those with proper training. Side Note: Why wouldn't every teacher or staff member be required to have some form of suicide training? You're working with hormonal teens for goodness sake isn't that worth the investment once every couple years? Showing concern and having a wider support net can't be a negative. And nobody should be in trouble for it, whats the harm in just checking in with the students? Nobody's being accused of being suicidal based on an internet search.

    I also don't really see the argument that it tends to target lower income students because they can't afford their own devices. Ok that's probably true. SO WHAT? Does that make it invalid? No. It still has the potential to help yes? So WHO CARES? Its not supposed to be a catch-all solution. Suicide prevention is a TEAM effort, the school can't do it all and parents have a tough time doing it all. Where is the harm in being a little too-careful, just use our adult brains and think before jumping to conclusions. The ONLY argument I can see here is mockery or bullying coming from students who heard "so and so got talked to about suicide". Ok... clear fault of somebody. Fix THAT problem.

    Spice (3) flagReport
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  • This should be treated like any other piece of reporting software: IT researches and develops the project, proposes it, it gets approved by the authorities, IT goes about and installs and tests it. The deliverables are then placed into the hands of the users for their testing and acclimation. Once go-time comes, IT just has to make sure it runs and that it's backed up, just like any other system. That's all IT would and should need to do.

    It's no different than handling an ERP, payroll database, or even infrastructure services for a police department. All we do is make sure the crap works. We may see a few things from time to time by accident that kind of grabs us the wrong way (kind of like a friend's coworker who was asked by a police sergeant to restore a corrupt SD card that happened to be filled with pictures of autopsies), but that's life in IT. Unless it's illegal, we do not judge, we are professionals.

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  • As an IT person in a school that uses GoGuardian, I know I've seen these types come through as well that raise questions on my end of why are they searching this subject. I do notify the Building principal and counselor to make sure they are aware and provide any information. Within GoGuardian you can also add other users to receive these alerts which I have, so we have additional eyes. Additionally we use Gaggle to monitor our student emails which have aided in helping with any possible student situations that arise.

    Securly has a self harm/bully detection system. http://www.securly.com/features/safe-social-networking ... I'm looking to setup this up tomorrow to demo for our.

    Spice (1) flagReport
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  • I have mixed feelings. If a student is using a district owned device, then yes, monitor away. If the student is using a device on a BYOD network, then sure as long as the policy covers such monitoring. Maybe monitoring will help keep the upcoming generation of trolls to a minimum (wishful thinking). Safety, security, and privacy are becoming a bigger issue by the day. I think people (especially kids) need to remember, if you are living your life through the internet, it is not going to be private. If you want to have a "private life", then keep it off the internet. Write on a piece of paper and put it under your bed. If you really have a secret, the internet is no place to stash it.

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  • According to the Supreme Court, students have very little privacy.  If the school wants IT to do the monitoring, then that is up to them.  Personally, I hate being the police and make my work that much less enjoyable.  Once the "enjoy ability scale" tips to much to the unenjoyable side, then I will start looking for a new place to work.

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  • I'm all for a filter to prevent suicide, but where in the hell is the filter to prevent bullying? I've been on the internet long enough, I've been through the school system. Some kids are relentless and will literally not stop until someone they dislike kills themselves. It's a damn shame. First person to invent a system to flag bullying and the like, has a chunk of money coming their way.

    As for the question:

    This comes down to security and privacy, what is more important? Child safety or child privacy? I would (if I could) put this to a vote and let the parents decide. After all it is their kids in question.

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  • 1.  It is not private.  It is a tax payer owned equipment issued for school work.  It is not their personal item and we fail as a society if we let kids think laptops are free at tax payers expense to do what ever you want on them.

    2. They and the parents sign consent or refuse the product.  Some parents do opt out. Less than 5 a year here.

    3. It is an electronic text-book for most classes.  The laptop is to be used as such.  A paper text-book can't look up the things a laptop can, and students are punished and or redirected when a filter such as GoGuardian shows they are not doing what they are supposed to do.

    4.  It is kind of like school; No wait it is school.  Stop whining and be a student!

    5. We notify parents.  They can decide if their kid gets help outside of school or not.  We don't EPC them for goodness sake.  We have never admitted a kid to a hospital or jail ever as a school.  Even in sporting events injuries, we call a parent if they are not present and never leave the child's side even in a hospital until a parent or legal guardian is there.

    6. Some kids do look creepy stuff up.  We talk to them and their family and talk how that is not appropriate on school owned equipment.  We explane staff members get fired for those things.  It is better you got in trouble this way instead of later in life when this would cost you your job.  2 week loss of school owned lap top for first offense of bad sites.

    7.  GoGuardian also blocks Youtube comments.  Tracks stolen or missing laptops.  Allows us to create custom black list and white list for sites.  Allows us to print history for parents from a cloud server so they can review 100% of their child's web traffic at a written request.  No deleting local data, using proxies, or "non-tracked browsers".  It is all logged regardless of the stunts the kid tries to hide.

    8. Parents love it.  I get compliments every year on how laptop usage is more business like and school like each year.  We ban music on school laptops and more as kids made awful choices and did not play school appropriate music. (This seems harsh to some folks, but parents can and have sued schools for cuss word laden music at school games, school dances, and more.) It is tax payer equipment in the hands of minors, we have to be the adults, because they are impulsive teenagers and won't be.

    9. It is basic life skills.  Learn to use personal devices for personal use, and work or school devices for work or school.  Laptops are a privilege not a given right.

    Spice (3) flagReport
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  • At one of my old districts I did a fair amount of student internet monitoring.  Students and their parents are supposed to sign an AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) outlining their responsibilities and what rights to privacy they had (aka: extremely little).  If I saw some unusual firewall activity I would remotely view the computer involved, and nearby computers, access what may have been going on in that environment, and either let it pass or report it as needed, with evidence and video for the appropriate individual(s) to make an intelligent judgement on what occurred.

    Logs and keyword flagging is good and all, but you need somebody qualified to set those kinds of things up, and determine what's appropriate or not, and help whomever gets those reports understand what they are seeing.  IT therefore has to be apart of that process, because we're the computer experts.  Out of everybody in a school district, probably the only people with nearly complete access to everything is the IT staff, because we set it up (which is why getting ethical IT people is so important).

    Overall, I think suicide filters are a good thing, particularly in our society (USA) where it seems values have diminished since I was a kid, and the expectations on schools' roles in raising children has increased.

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  • michaelgriffin3 wrote:

    I wonder if there would be a way to generate an automatic alert on search history and forward it to the parent or a student counselor instead of IT being the middle man on that sensitive situation. Using technology to be more aware of problems before they arise makes sense everywhere else why not here. A computer program doesn't target specific people it would just report what it was programmed to. No system is perfect but this sounds like a good idea to me. 

    I manage GoGuardian for our district and there are capabilities similar to what you've mentioned. GoGuardian has a 1-10 severity rating for each link where certain words such as "suicide", "meth", etc will instantly mark it as a 8-10. In addition to tracking web history it also tracks Google Search, YouTube and Extension history. 

    While we do report the majority of scandalous student activity as a department it is possible to give administration the ability to monitor OUs/users and receive email alerts.

    GoGuardian has been an awesome service and their support is wonderful for our teachers but good luck with support if you have larger issues with the extension. We have had a LARGE amount of issues with extension based filtering being inconsistent due to issues on their end and the response has been "we'll fix it sometime when we're done fixing other stuff" (understandable, I work in I.T., however we use this service only for the extension based filtering) 

    Spice (1) flagReport
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  • It has already been brought up, but I think this sort of thing brings liability.  A false positive is one thing, but if a thousand kids generate a single warning event, every day, you are going to ignore most of them.  Then, when one of those kids who only needed to google how to kill themselves once completes the act, the school, and perhaps you personally will be sued by the parents for not doing enough.

    While schools have to protect students, there is a point where a government entity cant replace good parents.  I see no problem doing this on the schools network, I think its a little grey when you start talking about laptops at home but still think its a generally good idea.  I'm just worried about the possible liability in the very litigious culture in which we live.

    Of course this is only when talking about kids (<18).
    If my college had been monitoring my traffic, I would have stopped attending (or more likely bought a VPN).  If my cable provider monitored content I would be talking to council and see what my own overly litigious options would be.

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  • MichaelPPS wrote:

    michaelgriffin3 wrote:

    I wonder if there would be a way to generate an automatic alert on search history and forward it to the parent or a student counselor instead of IT being the middle man on that sensitive situation. Using technology to be more aware of problems before they arise makes sense everywhere else why not here. A computer program doesn't target specific people it would just report what it was programmed to. No system is perfect but this sounds like a good idea to me. 

    I manage GoGuardian for our district and there are capabilities similar to what you've mentioned. GoGuardian has a 1-10 severity rating for each link where certain words such as "suicide", "meth", etc will instantly mark it as a 8-10. In addition to tracking web history it also tracks Google Search, YouTube and Extension history. 

    While we do report the majority of scandalous student activity as a department it is possible to give administration the ability to monitor OUs/users and receive email alerts.

    GoGuardian has been an awesome service and their support is wonderful for our teachers but good luck with support if you have larger issues with the extension. We have had a LARGE amount of issues with extension based filtering being inconsistent due to issues on their end and the response has been "we'll fix it sometime when we're done fixing other stuff" (understandable, I work in I.T., however we use this service only for the extension based filtering) 

    Wow, thank you for the insight from someone who uses it! I only used GoGuardian as an example, as did the article, but of course there are more versions of it.

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  • I think this is a good idea not only for suicide prevention but also for other dangerous topics. Who is responsible, that decision will always be the center of an argument. The reason being who to place the blame on if something major is missed. As for privacy concerns, any student/staff member who uses a schools internet, network storage, email and devices, assume that big brother is always watching. You dont own the the schools property (not going to get into a "i pay taxes so i do own it" argument here), so anything you do on their property is subject to their scrutiny.

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  • I will offer my unique perspective on this topic:

    First, I have my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I worked in schools as a mental health professional working with students. 

    I also work IT, and know K12 IT fairly well.

    In K12 you have FERPA, HIPAA, and CIPA to adhere to plus any state or local standards. Your IT team is not trained for this role, specifically to be able to identify between suicidal ideation and suicide awareness/research. Most kids when doing research will google something like:

    "How do I kill myself"

     Most systems will flag that, and will raise concern about a student. How many of these Network/IT people will know these students personally? The IT team basically becomes the ones to send reports to the school counselor/psychologist who investigates further. 

    You will have many false positives, which can lead to a culture of apathy or carelessness about the subject. Suicide is real, and complex. If IT wants to monitor this, all they would need to do is setup a script to auto report the google searches/web traffic and another school administrator would have to look into it.

    As a K12 admin/employee your job isn't not only your hired title, it is also to care for and nurture the students. That looks differently as a sysadmin vs teacher vs nurse vs helpdesk etc. Everyone's overarching goal in a school is a successful education, that includes social, emotional and intellectual of each student. If there is something you can be doing to help improve those experiences I would fully expect you to be doing it to the best of your ability. 

    In the US there is a epidemic of mental health issues in k12, I am trying to be realistic. Research shows that 1 in 4 children are sexually abused, let that sink in, a class of 20 students 5 have been sexually abused. These numbers have been shown to transcend cultural and socio-economic boundaries. Teachers are not trained how to deal with students who act out in class because of abuse. Schools as an institution are not equipped to handle sexual abuse, or suicide, or the myriad of other issues that present in the children. Teachers are trained educational theory which has fundamental assumptions of successful completions of the previous stage(s) of development. 

    Now I do not want you to read the above and think all is lost, that schools are horrible places to work, or send your children. Schools are full of well intentioned people, what works great in MY local school district may fail completely in your local district. It is the job of the IT professionals to bring these issues to light to the administration, offering solutions, knowing that IT will not be the ultimate solution but a piece of the puzzle. IT can pass on the logs and searches, the red flags, the counselors can talk to teachers and investigate. Counselors can continue to work with the teachers, student peer groups, and parents to help attack the problems holistically. Which I believe is the best way to help the kids. Suicide does have certain markers, two of the larger markets is the personal feeling isolated/disconnected from community, and the other is a loss of hope. As adults no matter what our job entails, we can always offer hope, and a smile to others around us. Kids have it rough, we had it rough as kids ourselves, the difference between us and them, Twitter/facebook/snapchat, they live in an ultra connected world and are overwhelmed with the negative fair quicker than the positive. 

    This week, make it a point to remind the children/kids you see/work with/know at church/baseball/bowling etc that they are pretty awesome, show them the good in the world. 

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  • If it comes to saving the lives of those students, I'm sorry but I'm against your civil liberties when it comes to privacy. You would have to give me evidence that it is actually working, not just a prevention (because of the invasion of privacy). You've provided the evidence that it is working (at least once per semester), so I'm sold on those measures. Plus, monitoring adults is different than monitoring kids as students. The school enters into an agreement with parents that they will protect those kids when they enter the building. That goes along with that notion, so I'm on board with that.

    If this was a university where you were doing the same thing with self-supporting adults, I would say no. Sorry, I don't agree with that. If you were monitoring me as a student in college, I would accept the policy even if I didn't agree with it. Simply because that is the school's policy. If I don't like the policy, I can go somewhere else or not use the network.

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  • from the perspective of responsibility for the results i think they should only be available to the approved Health Information resources at the institution. in fact IT should likely not have any involvement in the reports beyond setting up where they are delivered and at what frequency. More than likely nobody in the IT department is qualified to respond to those results or qualified to determine if the risk is worth followup. So in my eyes the info should go directly to the student health services department and your part is done.

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  • Well said Cweb,

    It's one thing I miss about my old district is that I was well connected to the students there, where I'm not at my current district.

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  • Don't forget to educate children on what to do if they are bullied, ie. talk to a parent, teacher, responsible adult. educate them on available resources, and that they don't half "tough it out". The same if receiving unwanted sexual messages as described in a previous post. Empower the child/victim to be able to overcome the situation on their own or with help.

    Also educate teachers, administrators, and parents on signs of suicide and depression, and let them know its generally ok to approach and inquire about whats going on.

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