Dear West Genesee Families,
Schools have changed across the years. Even in recent years, there has been an evolution of many components of instructional delivery, common assessments used formatively, data that helps to individualize what is best for each student, advanced programs, technology as a tool for learning, and much more. With some history maintained, it is my hope that we look for growth and change as part of a culture of continuous improvement.
Some differences, as compared to our past, create challenges. Our kids face additional conditions than that of past generations: information is more immediate, time boundaries have opened, and connections are more far-reaching. There is quick exposure at any time of the day to any part of our world. While technology opens opportunity, there is related access that can be consuming and overwhelming for our youth.
Social media has a two-sided impact. It can be a way to maintain connections and share updates, but it also has potential to increase pressure, cause hurt, and can result in disruption. Many of our students have lived their lives knowing and using various platforms routinely. As a result, they may be more vulnerable to accepting what they see as truth or to impulsively respond, share, or post.
It is important that we, as adults, protect our youth from the potential missteps that they frequently face. For now, I encourage you to discuss their vulnerabilities of either being impacted by something false or by responding or sharing in a way that could induce hurt, negativity, and potentially dangerous information. We all want our students to have a “see something, say something” approach of trust with the adults around them. Our continued conversations will help them to question the validity of social media and choose a more productive path of sharing concerns and more directly addressing important issues.
Below, please find “Ways to support our youth with social media” that will be updated and available through this E-Newsletter and our website. I will be addressing this in the future through further avenues of discussion and action. We need everyone’s help. We have 4,503 young individuals, many of whom are active online, working their way through formative years, and attempting to navigate their world. It is our relationships and communication with them and for them that will help keep our children safe.
As always, thank you for your part of our West Genesee “Stronger Together” that will be imperative to meet ongoing challenges. It is our partnership that can make a difference.
David C. Bills, Superintendent of Schools
Social Media Tips
Ways to support our youth with social media:
1) Speak to your children about reporting any concerning posts or suspicious activities on social media to a trusted adult. It is important that children understand they will not be punished for reporting a post and that we will protect their anonymity as we investigate the concern. It is also important for students to refrain from sharing or otherwise passing along inappropriate posts, as it contributes to a violation of the WGCSD Code of Conduct.
2) Explain how TIP411 works to your children. Tip411 is an anonymous communication tool that allows students to report serious concerns to schools. Tip411 will provide an option for those students who may not have a trusted adult to relay their concerns. (Note: At times, there may be follow-up questions. Because of the anonymity, it is important to check back to the original TIP411 report.)
3) Encourage your children to seek the truth regarding information online and reporting questionable posts to trusted adults rather than sharing misinformation that causes more confusion than clarity.
4) Speak with your children about school shootings and other tragic events and the fear we all feel as we navigate this unfortunate reality of online threats. Having an open dialogue about school safety is important, especially when threats occur. Here is a link from Common Sense Media that can help guide that sometimes difficult conversation: How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings.
5) Please relay any social media threats to school administrators so we can begin our investigation and involve the police, if necessary. We take each threat seriously and have a protocol to address each incident. As information becomes available, the District will provide updates to parents.