Across the country and here in Ventura County, schools are seeing a concerning increase in students making inappropriate and potentially dangerous posts to social media, particularly on Instagram. These posts have included threats of violence and embarrassing pictures of students and staff members who didn’t know they were being photographed. In some cases, students create accounts that fraudulently appear to represent their school.
Just yesterday, a social media threat created a significant disturbance at Oxnard High School and led to the suspension and arrest of the student suspected of posting it. With help from the Oxnard Police Department, the Oxnard Union High School District determined the threat was not credible. However, the disruption it created for students, staff and families is very real, as are the consequences students can face when they are caught engaging in inappropriate social media activity.
“Students need to understand that posting threatening and harassing material to social media is no joke,” said Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. “I urge all parents to talk to their children about this issue and explain that inappropriate online behavior can have serious consequences in the real world. Working together, educators and families can help ensure that schools are safe and supportive places for students to learn and grow.”
Schools do report inappropriate and fraudulent accounts to the social media platforms, but there is often a delay before they are taken down, and sometimes they are not removed at all. Here are some steps that parents, guardians, and caregivers can take to help address this problem:
- Be aware of your child’s online activity; they may have multiple accounts on the same platform.
- Remind students that while they may feel anonymous online, their identity can be revealed through technological means and if other students report them.
- Let students know that they should inform a trusted adult if they’re aware of inappropriate social media activity.
You can find additional tips on talking to students about social media from Common Sense Media at www.commonsensemedia.org/social-media.
It’s also important for families to be aware of their school and district’s authorized social media sites. The Ventura County Office of Education has created a list of the official social media accounts for all of the county’s 20 school districts, which is available at www.vcoe.org/vc-districts.
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About the Ventura County Office of Education
The Ventura County Office of Education provides a broad array of fiscal, training and technology support services to local school districts, helping to maintain and improve lifelong educational opportunities for children, educators, and community members. VCOE also operates schools that serve students with severe disabilities and behavioral issues, provides career education courses, and coordinates countywide academic competitions including Mock Trial and the Ventura County Science Fair. Learn more at: www.vcoe.org.
Dave Schermer, Director of Communications
805-383-1922 • [email protected]