Student Safety and SEL

Access to Chromebooks has increased 52% for students in grades 6-8 and 100% in high schools nationwide over the past two years, according to Project Tomorrow Speak Up 2016. As we continue to provide devices to 21st-century learners, we’re also giving them access to powerful communication and collaboration tools like G Suite for Education and Office 365.

At the same time, more school districts are focusing on social and emotional learning (SEL), the process through which students acquire and effectively apply knowledge, learn attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

Learning social and emotional skills improves academic performance and decreases anxiety, depression and emotional distress, which can lead to bullying, self-harm and suicide.

It’s evident that technology plays a significant role in SEL. Take, for instance, the number of cyberbullying incidents within school-provided email and documents shared in Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. During the 2016-17 school year, we identified more than 10,000 threats to student safety or inappropriate content in email messages and shared documents.

With SEL, educators strive to align resources that address cyberbullying and other barriers to academic achievement and to identify if a student is struggling, which can lead to absenteeism, suspensions and even expulsions. With the help of Gaggle Safety Management, schools and districts can see a significant decrease in exclusionary practices. For instance, one school district reported that, with our help, suspensions have dropped 86% and expulsions were down 95% since 2010-11.

Youth suicide and self-inflicted injury also remain serious public health concerns. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15-19 in the U.S., according to 2016 data. During this past school year, we helped save the lives of 250 students because school districts were proactive in identifying potentially harmful situations in G Suite, Office 365 and learning management systems like Canvas.

In addition to the students who were discussing or even taking steps to end their lives, there are thousands of others who received help because schools were able to identify potentially harmful situations and intervene before situations escalated.

I applaud school districts in Austin, Chicago, Cleveland, Nashville, Oakland and others for adopting SEL frameworks. Together, we can make sure that our students participate in a welcoming, participatory and caring climate for learning.