At Mount Vernon, we equip learners with appropriate access to emerging technology, in order to collaborate, construct, and/or contextualize learning. We intentionally provide students with opportunities to use technology to design a better world. At the same time, we place great importance on mitigating potential online risk.
In an effort to continue to increase filters in pace with technological advancements, we have a partnership with Bark for Schools to proactively monitor all of our school-issued student Google accounts for signs of cyberbullying, self-harm, sexual predators, school shootings, and more. Bark for Schools was developed as a response to the tragic Parkland shooting as a way to help schools protect students at no cost to them or their communities. Since then Bark for Schools has become the trusted partner of 1,000 school districts — with more than 80 joining every month.
When a potentially harmful or serious message is created or sent online, specifically related to cyberbullying, threats of violence, sexual content, and self-harm, Bark sends Mount Vernon administrators an alert so we know who is involved and what might be happening so we can intervene quickly.
Families have the option to receive Bark alerts after school hours and during weekends, breaks, and holidays. After creating a free account, families will receive alerts if issues are detected on a child’s mountvernonschool.org email account or within Google Drive documents. Receiving these alerts will help gain insight into what a child is experiencing online. Families may use these opportunities to start conversations with children and emphasize the importance of open, honest communication.
Bark provides all of the above for free as part of their give back program and is available to all K-12 schools and districts in the United States. You can also enable Bark’s product for families, which monitors texts, email, YouTube, and more than 24 social media platforms for potential safety concerns on your student’s personal accounts. In 2018, Bark detected 1.2 million instances of cyberbullying, 140,000+ communications discussing self-harm, nearly 100 student conversations with sexual predators, and 51 potential acts of violence in schools. To help your family, Mount Vernon has secured a 20% discount on the monthly cost, which is $7.20 per month / $79.20 per year to cover an unlimited number of accounts, devices, and children. The upgrade is available after signing up for the free Bark for Schools Family Alert Dashboard (see above).
For more information on Bark, as well as general tips regarding how to monitor and manage school-aged children’s online activity, we will host a Parent University in the fall of 2019 to share information and strategies for families. In the meantime, please contact Katie Cain, Director of Instructional Technology, with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate the opportunity to partner with our parents in order to provide the most effective tools possible to ensure the success of all Mount Vernon students.