Addressing the Gang Violence in BC

 

UPDATE: Registrations for these sessions are now closed!

In light of the current Lower Mainland gang conflict and its impact across the province, SST will be offering complimentary sessions for: Students, Staff (Educators & Law Enforcement), and Parents

 

 

The tragic announcement of the remains of 215 children found at former Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia

‪The bodies of 215 Indigenous children, found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School has elevated intergenerational trauma for many Indigenous communities. We have included a list of resources dedicated to supporting Indigenous peoples here.
420Doggface208

2020 – Positive Trends Roundup

The Language of Social Media

The Language of Social Media

The Language of Social Media

Photo courtesy of @cottonbro

As the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures continue, our Safer Schools Together (SST) Threat Analysts have noticed an increase in students using covert language to communicate suicidal intentions, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

“Our youth have taken to social media to remain social at a time where we have been forced to physically distance,” says SST Trainer and Senior Threat Analyst Nick Chernoff. “It’s important for parents, educators, and law enforcement who support student safety to pay attention to what youth are posting online, especially because the majority of our social interactions have moved online.”

Although students have always had their secret language to express thoughts and feelings on social media, we’ve noticed a resurgence in this online trend and new accompanying vocabulary. We first saw a drastic increase in covert language with the use of the hashtag, #mysecretfamily. With this trend, youth were posting about family members Ana (girls) or Rex (boys) to speak about their struggles with anorexia, family members Sue (girls) or Dallas (boys) if they were struggling with suicidal ideation, and other names that corresponded with various mental health struggles.

mysecretfamily

Students use secret language to share mental health struggles. Please be warned, if you decide to search the internet for secret language terminology, you may come across triggering content.

Now we are seeing students posting about wanting to become ‘unalive’ or ‘unal!ve’, using misspellings like ‘sewercide’, when they are struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. Seemingly innocent lines such as ‘I had pasta tonight’ and ‘I finished my shampoo and conditioner at the same time’ are often meant to be seen as a cry for help when posted on social media by teens and young adults.  It is believed that the phrases are derived from Hannah Dains’ poem ‘Don’t Kill Yourself Today,’ which lists reasons why a suicidal person should choose to stay alive.

Hannah Dains

Hannah Dains

Students may use covert language as a subtle cry for help. They don’t necessarily want to come out and directly speak about the things they are going through so they use these codes to signal to their peers that they are struggling. Another reason for the use of secret language could be that certain social media platforms have censored posts containing hashtags such as #depression #suicide and even those that were once covert such as #Ana and #Sue.

According to Chernoff, the added stress of the pandemic is causing increased anxiety in youth, and it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the things they are posting online. “Take a few extra seconds when looking at a social media post to see if it has a hidden meaning, you may be surprised,” he says.

Social Media Platform Updates:  

  • Facebook Vanish mode: Facebook Messenger’s vanish mode will let users send messages that automatically delete. “Vanish mode is also opt-in, so you choose whether to enter vanish mode with someone. If someone takes a screenshot of your chat while you’re using vanish mode, you’ll be notified.”
  • Facebook / Instagram Messenger: Facebook launches cross-platform messaging on Instagram and Messenger. Users currently have to opt-in to use this feature.
  • Instagram Changes: Big changes in Instagram include a different layout and a new Instagram Checkout icon making in-app purchases easier. Instagram has also added keyword search in addition to profiles and tags.
  • Snapchat Spotlight: Spotlight is seen as Snapchat’s version of the popular short-form videos that were popularized by TikTok. Spotlight is described by Snapchat as, “a new entertainment platform for user-generated content within Snapchat.” Like TikTok, over time Snapchat’s algorithm will personalize Spotlight videos to suit users’ individual interests. According to Tech Crunch, “To encourage creators to post to Spotlight, Snapchat says it will be distributing more than $1 million every day [to those] who create the top videos on Spotlight.” SST is concerned about the harmful behaviors we may see from youth as a result of this monetary offer. In August of this year, Instagram also jumped on the popularity of short-form videos with its launch of Reels.
  • Twitter Fleets:Fleets allow you to share fleeting or transitory thoughts, and after 24 hours, they’ll disappear from view. Fleet authors can see who views their Fleets, including accounts with protected Tweets, by clicking into their Fleets and tapping on the Seen By text at the bottom.”

SST provides monthly (90-minute) remote learning sessions covering Current Behavioral Trends and Digital Updates. Sign up for a 1-year subscription

Urquhart at Pulling Together 2017

Seeking Truth: Why One Police Officer Believes Knowledge is a Powerful Tool for Reconciliation with Indigenous Communities

Theresa Campbell with former VPD Chief Jim Chu

Theresa Campbell Wins Surrey Board of Trade’s Women in Business Award

SBOT Women Business Logo

Theresa Campbell, President and CEO of Safer Schools Together (SST) has won a Surrey Board of Trade, Women in Business award, in the category of Social Trailblazer.

Since 2012,  SST has been helping schools and law enforcement professionals throughout North America minimize and manage their risks of student violence with reliable, professional training. “We make sure we’re available for law enforcement and school districts when they’re facing stressful situations,” says Campbell. “Most importantly for us, we’re able to demonstrate around the world the impact that our work can have on early intervention for young people on the pathway to violence. The work we do is already very rewarding. It’s just a bonus when it gets recognized.”

Campbell developed PSSTWorld, the first web-based anonymous reporting tool to encourage students to get personally involved in ensuring the safety and security of their school. She also developed Digital Threat Assessment training, which trains school safety teams to establish digital behavioural baselines for threat assessments.

Theresa Campbell with former VPD Chief Jim Chu

Theresa Campbell with former VPD Chief Jim Chu

In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Frederic Milton Thrasher Award for superior service in gang prevention. The same year she was awarded the 2008 Solicitor General Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award of Excellence in recognition of her contribution and commitment to crime prevention and community safety.

Campbell is very involved in the community and has served on many boards and committees—liaising with various levels of government, police services, school districts, regional health and social services. She is currently an executive board member of Odd Squad, an organization founded by former VPD (Vancouver Police Department) members that design prevention and educational programs for youth.

In 2016, SST’s partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Education was honoured with the Premier’s award for work done on the Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) Bullying Strategy. ERASE is a multi-pronged bullying and violence prevention strategy program run by SST for the Ministry that brings together schools, students, teachers, police, Crown counsel and other community partners to prevent bullying and violence in B.C. schools.

Last year SST was also awarded the Surrey Board of Trade’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award at their Excellence Awards.

The Rapid Rise of Vaping - Lynda Steele

The Rapid Rise of Vaping

TikTok Ban

TikTok Ban, Now What?

TikTok Ban

Trump Administration Bans TikTok in the United States. Photo courtesy of Kon Karampelas.


TikTok is banned in the U.S.

The Trump administration announced plans this week to restrict access to TikTok in the United States starting Sunday, September 20th. While existing users can continue to use the app on their devices, updates will not be supported and new users will not be able to download the app.

The ban of TikTok and WeChat (the largest chat platform in China) comes because of concerns of both apps’ collection of American citizens’ personal data. TikTok gained popularity by allowing users to post short video clips set to music. Videos can be edited with filters and manipulated in different ways. Content creators can and have used this platform to gain overnight success by posting a single viral video. This has been the reason for TikTok’s explosive growth—the app allows everyday people to become internet sensations.

“It’s more of an entertainment platform than lifestyle one, which is why it’s been so popular. This type of content isn’t going away,” says Colton Easton, Threat Analyst Manager for Safer Schools Together. “There’s going to be a move towards other platforms.”

Charli D'Amelio TikTok

Popular TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio recently joined rival app Triller.


The Future of TikTok Followers and Influencers:

Some of the platforms Easton mentions are: Triller, Byte, and Instagram Reels. Content creators, including TikTok’s most prolific user, 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio, have already begun to explore other platforms. D’Amelio, who has over 85 million followers on TikTok recently started a Triller account, that gained 1.2 million followers in two days.

When creators switch platforms, the followers will too. “The app will still be used, but we’re predicting a slow burn out of the app for consumers and creators using TikTok,” says Easton. “We’ll see this more when new features are added to these other platforms like Triller and Instagram Reels.”

 

Safer Schools Together (SST) provides Digital Threat Assessment training to Law Enforcement and School Districts across North America. All aspects of school safety and threats to schools now involve a social media or online component and it’s important to be prepared. To learn more about SST’s services, email info@saferschoolstogether.com.

What is Twitch?

What is Twitch?

Website: www.twitch.tv
Suggested Age Range: 16+

Twitch is a live stream video platform with a community primarily focused around video games.

In 2020, we are seeing Twitch continue to become increasingly popular with youth and is being used during and after school.

Safer Schools Together is here to walk you through everything You Need To Know about Twitch, its users, and the influencers that your kids may be following.

What is Twitch?

Twitch is a website where users can watch and broadcast live stream videos. The culture of the website is mainly based around video games, however there are other stream topics such as music, food, and general discussion. Twitch can be viewed in a browser or on Android and iOS mobile devices.

Some of the core features of Twitch are watching others live stream, broadcasting a live stream, an interactive chat system where users can use a text box to chat live with the streamer, paid monthly subscriptions to streamers, and private messaging.

Twitch is not new – it has been around since 2011 and has become increasingly popular ever since. The average user spends 105 minutes each day on the platform and there are 15 million daily active users – that’s 1.5 billion minutes spent on Twitch each day!

The average user is a male between the ages of 16 to 24 and lives in the United States of America.

What is Twitch?

Popular influencers on the site are referred to as ‘streamers’, also known as the users who broadcast frequently and consistently. Many Twitch streamers also upload their content to Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Some of the most popular games to watch on Twitch include League of Legends, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, Minecraft, Valorant, Overwatch, Apex Legends, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and more.

Video games

Twitch has a wide array of influencers (aka ‘streamers’) who are generally associated with live streaming video games. These streamers have followers and views just as on any other social application, however, the monetary revenue source for these streamers are a little more transparent than we typically see on other social media sites.

Any user can monetize their Twitch channel – revenue can be sourced from “tips/donations” which are given to the streamer by viewers to show their support. Sending a tip/donation can trigger an on-screen notification accompanied by a comment from the monetary contributor. Another stream of revenue can source from monthly Subscriptions. Subscriptions allow users to support the streamer on a monthly basis and grants them access to subscriber-only chats, custom emojis, and more. The payment system on Twitch is primarily Paypal, however Twitch also accepts credit cards and Amazon Prime memberships.

Pictured below from left to right are popular Twitch streamers: xQc, Summit1g, Pokimane, and Tyler1.

Twitch influencers

Any live streaming platform comes with its own host of potential dangers for youth. Because users and content creators are not moderated, there is free reign to say or stream anything from hate speech, violence, and other offensive material. Even channels dedicated to kid-friendly content can be a place for predatory behaviour or grooming.

Cancel Culture

Calling out Cancel Culture: How Online Exposures and Cancellations are Impacting Our Students

Cancel Culture

What is Cancel Culture?

J.K. Rowling, Kevin Hart, Johnny Depp, Ellen, Don Cherry—these people have all been called out and cancelled by their peers, the public, or both. Cancel culture is the practice of withdrawing support (or calling for the boycott) of companies and people after it is revealed that they have done something offensive. It has become a way for the public or a group of people to demand accountability. For many, it’s a way to take away the power of the offender. But while celebrities may lose a bit of work or a portion of their fan base as a result of being cancelled, the everyday person faces more devastating consequences.

This trend of calling out or cancelling someone is a new name for the old practice of boycotting.  The only difference now is that when someone is “cancelled” in an online context, it can have damaging outcomes for the person being cancelled.

Youth Trends

What does this have to do with what we’re seeing with students today? “Some youth have weaponized this trend,” says Safer Schools Together (SST) Senior Threat Analyst Trevor Dallow. “They’re running with this idea that they can ruin their peers’ reputations by exposing them.”

Dallow explains that exposure is revealing something private or controversial about someone with the intention of taking them down, causing humiliation and social ostracization.

We are seeing more of this on young peoples’ social media accounts. Students, rightly or wrongly, are being called out by their peers. In our work at SST, we’ve come across following cancel culture trends:

  • Friends exposing each other
  • Premeditated exposures: students will sit on a piece of content for weeks, waiting for the right time to call someone out
  • Students private posts or messages being made public
  • Hate / threats from strangers
  • Fabricated content to illicit negative reactions

The fact that we now have the ability to easily call out the injustices in the world and the prejudices of public figures and peers is a good and positive thing. But when hate is replaced by more hate, we’re not making any progress.

Collective Fight vs. Mob Mentality

A GQ magazine article entitled, Have We Taken Cancel Culture Too Far in 2020? justifiably asks, “But what happens when that discourse becomes one not focused on the larger issue, but one directed towards an individual? Does the collective fight for a greater good turn into a mere mob mentality, one that largely echoes the same principles of bullying? Or are we still all just trying to speak our truth, regardless of who happens to be in the way?”

Where We Go From Here

As we move forward into a society of pervasive cancel culture, our focus should shift to curating solutions: educating students on fact-checking tools, techniques, and giving them a general awareness that not everything they read or see online is factual.

“Just as students were introduced to All The Right Type as computers became standardized in schools, we should also be ensuring that students are expanding their knowledge of cancel culture and how to best avoid becoming a victim of this growing trend.” says SST Threat Analyst / Trainer, Steven MacDonald. “We have to educate our students so that cancelling someone doesn’t become used as an excuse for cyberbullying or cyber exclusion.”

With social media such a big part of all our lives, it’s more important than ever to be mindful about the ways we’re using it. This doesn’t mean censoring ourselves, but instead thinking before we add to our digital tattoos. Because like tattoos, what we post on the internet never really goes away.

Police in Schools – SST’s Theresa Campbell weighs in

Theresa Campbell, President and CEO of Safer Schools Together, spoke to CKNW’s Lynda Steele about the debate surrounding the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools. Campbell cited the 2018 study conducted by Carleton University’s Dr. Linda Duxbury and Dr. Craig Bennell that concluded, “Peel Regional Police’s $9-million School Resource Officer (SRO) program reducing crime and bullying while providing extensive social and economic benefits estimated at 11 times the cost.”

Click here to listen.

Digital safety for today’s schools and families

Our Senior Threat Analyst Nick Chernoff was recently featured on Safe and Sound Schools’ Tuesdays at the Table. Chernoff talked with Michelle Gay and her team about both the good and bad trends that we are seeing young people engage in online. Watch below for some of the ways parents can navigate the online world and help their children foster healthy connections during COVID-19.

Stereotypes bad predictors of school violence

Stereotypes bad predictors of school violence

Arvadapress.com
Posted Monday, February 11, 2019 7:24 pm

Experts at Thornton seminar urge educators to look at words, online postings for tips.

When it comes to preventing the next Columbine High School shooting, two school security experts urged educators to look at what their students say and where they say it.“A lot of these kids are very open and post things on websites or social media that are clear, explicit comments about the violence they intend to do,” said Dr. Peter Langman, an international expert on the psychology of school shooters. “They might hide their intentions, but a lot of people are very open about what they intend to do. Maybe they think they can post it and get away with it. No one is going to stop them.”
The young people behind the worst school violence don’t always fit the standard stereotype, Langman said at a school threat assessment symposium Feb. 5 at the Adams 12 School District conference center in Thornton.
Potential school shooters are not always outcast white males but can be any race and can come from seemingly good backgrounds, Langman said during the morning session at the day-long conference.
“The only piece of that is largely true is the male piece of it,” Langman said. “There is far more racial and ethnic diversity among shooter than people tend to realize and they can be far more socially successful.”He encouraged educators to look for warning signs among the work students do in school — projects and writing assignments that demonstrate a fascination with guns, a lack of empathy and emotional need for vengeance and violence.“My concern is people are is only looking for someone who is the misfit, the outcast or the loser and the loner,” Langman said, “They’ll miss the actual warning signs that are out there.”

Sam Jingfors presented the afternoon session, devoted to how educators can find and evaluate potential threats. Jingfors is vice president of Safer Schools Together, an organization that trains educators and police on how to use social media to evaluate potential threats and get kids the help they need.
“The threshold is low for how incredibly easy it is to create a fake Snapchat account, post something like this and have it spread exponentially fast and virally throughout your school community creating a moral panic,” he said.”It happens so fast and quite often, it happens when your sleeping.”
The event was organized and sponsored by the Colorado School Safety and Resource Center, part of the state’s Department of Public Safety. The symposium brought teachers, principles, counselor and security staff from across the state together.
Warning signs
Langman noted that April 1999’s mass shooting at Columbine High School was not the first of its kind or the worst but still manages to be one of the most influential. Many subsequent school shooters, both inside and out of the United States, make reference to the shooters in their writings.
“Columbine was not meant as a school shooting but as a terroristic bombing that would destroy the school and everyone in it,” Langman said.
He noted that scope of what the shooter intended went well beyond anything before or after. He noted, too, that the shooters document their plans and their reasons and the story was covered nationally.
“It also occurred right around the time the world was getting online and the start of the 24-hour news cycle,” Langman said. “When it occurred, it just kind of got lodged into the nation’s conscience in that way. It is the one, more than any other attack that people refer back too.”
While Langman told educators the kinds of things to look for, Jingfors told them where to find it online and described methods for locating it. Often, students warn friends to stay away from school before they do something drastic, what Langman and Jingfors called leakage.
He urged educators to keep open communication with students, who can warm them of leaked threat and said schools should encourage each teacher to learn the name of at least one student that is not in any of their classes.
“For all of you that work with youth, you know how impactful that one relationship they have with an adult can be,” he said. “It can’t be understated.”

More wins than losses
It’s an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but worth the time. Jingfors said schools do a much better job intercepting incidents than most people realize.
“We actually have a disproportionate number of wins compared to the losses and I think that’s very important to remember,” Jingfors said. “Those don’t make the headlines and it’s hard to quantify prevention but I can tell you that it’s happening across the country.”
He outlined one scenario that occurred during a seminar he and his staff were presenting. A school superintendent approached him during a break with a Snapchat photograph that she had just received from her staff. The photo, of a hand holding a gun, warned students to stay away from school the next day but was from an unidentified account. She asked Jingfors for help determining if it was a real threat.
“Our analysts were there, they were hungry and they were ready to get to work,” he said.

Jingfors said his analysts were able to quickly trace the anonymous poster’s username across multiple social media and friends’ accounts — across Snapchat, a Steam online gaming account, three Instagram accounts and his Facebook account — to a series of suicidal Soundcloud audio postings linked to a students name.
“Once that information was provided to the superintendent, she was able to make the call she needed and have law enforcement go directly to his house and apprehend him as a risk of suicide,” he said. “They were actually able to get a longer hold than just the typical one for a suicide risk assessment. Law enforcement was able to seize a gun from his house, so it was a good case scenario. It speaks to the timeliness and importance to have someone able to navigate social media for digital threat assessment.”

The Top 3 Social Media and Online Sites Students are Using Right Now

The Top 3 Social Media and Online Sites Students are Using Right Now

The online and social media landscape is constantly changing, and middle school and high school students are often the first to use new social media sites and other digital products. As a campus security and public safety professional, you need to know what the students in your schools are viewing on the internet so that you can protect them. But keeping up with the latest trends can be extremely challenging.

So what are the three hottest social media and online products that ‘tweens and teens are currently using? To find out, CS interviewed Sam Jingfors, who is vice president of Safer Schools Together. In this video, he tells us about Snapchat, Instagram and the game Fortnite, as well as some of the risks associated with each.

Sam Jingfors: Snapchat came out in 2011, until this day in 2018, it is the most popular App that they’re using to communicate one to one with each other. And of course their claim to fame was that the Snapchat photos disappear in 10 seconds or less. Poof, they’re gone. We know that they don’t really disappear, because we see screenshots of them on other platforms.

But I think some of the changes over the past year specifically that have changed the game in terms of school safety, but also how our kids are using it, is public Snapchat story, and the fact that each one of our schools has a searchable public Snapchat story that our kids are adding photos and videos to.

Secondly is SnapMap, which allows kids to be able to geo-locate their friends and specifically their bit emojis, which is their small, animated caricature, a representation of who their friends are. They can see where they are on a map in real time, down the square block. So that certainly pulls some challenges too, in the eyes of parents, wanting to make sure that their kids are safe online.

So we’re always making sure that our kids are aware of every single one of their Snapchat contacts for example.

Want to learn how to identify precursors to violence that are leaked through social media posts? Attend this summer’s Campus Safety Conferences, which are being held in Texas, Virginia and California. In all three events, Sam Jingfors of Safer Schools Together will present Digital Threat Assessment: How Publically Available Social Media Can be Utilized and Assessed to Ensure Safe Campuses. To register, visit CampusSafetyConference.com.
The second most popular App is Instagram. Owned by Facebook, Facebook of course is going through some privacy challenges at the moment, and that’s had an impact certainly on the way that Instagram operates. But privacy as it relates to Instagram for our kids, it’s either you’re public or you’re private. It’s like a light switch in the setting.

So we recommend to parents to make sure if they’re young kids especially, are getting into the social media world, they’re likely asking for Instagram, make sure that account is private right off the bat, which allows you to control the followers, and those that actually want to follow you. And you can approve and deny at a willing basis.

Third most popular, just to keep it succinct, is a game called Fortnite. It’s part of the Battle Royale type category of games, which is kind of a free for all. It is taking over the world. Every student I know at school right now is either playing Fortnite or is annoyed that other people are talking about Fortnite and playing it. All the way from grade four or five, all the way up to college age students. It started off just being a computer game, and then they just recently released both their Android as well as iPhone edition of the game.

What Should Schools Do When Students Engage in Sexting?
Related: What Should Schools Do When Students Engage in Sexting?
So there isn’t a ton of risk associated with contact with strangers aside from just the game play, and relatively it is one of the more creative that has been released over the last little while.

So certainly I think part of the point with parents in Fortnite is just regulating screen time with that, just trying to moderate that. And putting limits in place that they’re not playing 13 hours a day of Fortnite and ignoring other areas of their life.

So I’m really looking forward to speaking with attendees later this summer in the three separate Campus Safety events across North America, where we will be able to dive into all these platforms and talk about much more around the lives of our kids’ digital and social media presence.

Original Article