With just a click of a mouse, a student can access unlimited amounts of research, tap into the life and mind of Dr. Martin Luther King, or explore cell division with beautiful computer animated representations.
However, the same ease-of-use provided by the internet for a student with a knowledge-hungry mind is also a tool that gives sexual predators and pedophiles easy access to social profiles and email of students. Many of the most common social networks require very little setup and can easily connect two people with no previous interaction.
On March 21st, a student, “Anna,” was contacted by, what appeared to be, an adult male via her Gaggle email. The first message the male sent was a nude photo. The photo and message were flagged by Gaggle and a phone call was made to the district emergency contacts at Anna’s school, per the usual procedure of Gaggle Safety Management.
The context of the message and the male’s identification of the student by a username led the Gaggle Student Safety Representative to believe this conversation began on another messaging medium, such as a public chat room or social network. This type of message is a red flag because it usually indicates the student is communicating with a total stranger.
The male attempted to contact the student again the next day, as well as the following week. Although these later messages did not contain any inappropriate content, Gaggle’s Student Safety Representatives forwarded them to the district emergency contacts so they were kept aware of the situation. The benefit of filtered content being monitored by actual Gaggle employees allows for interpretation of context, which is why, although the student did not receive any additional email messages flagged for inappropriate content, the district was informed of all contact from the initial offender to the student.
In a time where internet access is easy and quick, regardless of age, it’s important that students are kept safe when their better judgment is impaired by the appeal of a public chat room and the need for online interaction. Are you confident your students are protected from predators in and out of school?