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BPS Students to Participate in 24/7 Respect Week
From February 11-15, Boston Public Schools (BPS) is holding its first-ever "24/7 Respect Week," an initiative to promote respectful behavior in-person and online for students in grades 6-12. Learn more in this letter BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille issued to students and families, along with tips and resources:
February 7, 2019
Dear Boston Public Schools Community:
The Boston Public Schools (BPS) is committed to ensuring a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all students. That’s why we are launching “24/7 Respect Week,” an initiative from February 11-15 to promote respectful behavior in-person and online. With apps like Snapchat and Instagram as popular as ever, we ask that students, families, and staff join us in becoming role models for how to communicate verbally and digitally in a manner that is responsible and considerate of others.
During 24/7 Respect Week, students in grades 6-12 will learn how to engage in inclusive and thoughtful interactions with their peers, whether in person, by text, or online, reinforcing how young people can communicate in ways that are supportive and affirming. We hope 24/7 Respect Week will prompt parents and guardians to speak with their children about their texting and social media habits, and spur dialogue about how to stay safe and respectful 24/7, 365 days a year.
As our digital world continues to grow, it has become all too common for young people to send or receive inappropriate messages or posts that could result in lasting harm, and may even violate the law. This type of behavior can include bullying, sexual harassment or misconduct, or racist messages. All of these behaviors are examples of bias-based conduct, which is prohibited in the Boston Public Schools and in many cases could violate the law. Such conduct, even if it occurs off school property or outside school hours, is prohibited by BPS because it would likely impact the learning or work environment.
During 24/7 Respect Week, middle and high school students will watch a video called “Stay Out of the Box” produced by students in the Boston Student Advisory Council in partnership with the BPS Office of Equity, and participate in classroom discussion to better understand how bias-based behavior can be harmful to others. Additionally, the district is supporting teachers with lesson plans and resources, including a new web page on bostonpublicschools.org with tips on how to stay safe and respectful when interacting electronically with peers and how to check for consent before making physical contact with others. You can find many of these resources outlined on the second page of this letter.
If you are the parent or guardian of a 4th or 5th grader, and might like to watch and discuss “Stay Out of the Box” with your child, you can preview it here to consider if it would be appropriate for your child:
If your child is targeted with or in possession of bias-based, sexually explicit, or other offensive communication, please report this to a school administrator or the BPS Office of Equity (617-635-9650 or firstname.lastname@example.org). It is everyone’s responsibility to join us in ensuring our young people’s well-being, and every student’s opportunity to flourish at school and beyond.
TIPS AND RESOURCES
Top Three Tips for students from the BPS 24/7 Respect Week Video, “Stay Out of the Box”:
- Think before you speak, text, or post.
- Ask yourself: Is it welcome, true, and kind?
- Remember: Anyone can see what you post!
Use Social Media Responsibly: Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) provides a wealth of resources to help young people thrive in a world of social media, the internet, texting, and other technology. Among its tips for social media users, the organization suggests:
- Don’t add strangers as contacts. People aren't always who they say they are online. If someone you don't know communicates with you, do not respond, and tell a trusted adult.
- Keep some information private, such as your name, address, school, and phone number.
- No matter what app you use, anyone can see, share, or save your posts/messages. No App can provide 100% security and your posts/messages can be shared publicly.
Enable Security Settings on Apps:
- Snapchat: Please note that the Snapchat app is particularly concerning. Because Snapchat automatically deletes photo, video, or text messages shortly after they are opened, young people may falsely assume Snapchat messages — particularly those containing bias-based, sexually explicit, or other offensive content — will be immediately destroyed. However, the message receiver can easily take a screenshot, and then share the harmful images, videos, or words as widely and frequently as they choose.
- In the “Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Snapchat,” Common Sense Media suggests parents enable privacy settings with their children. Click on the link for detailed instructions.
Instagram and Facebook: Common Sense Media urges teenagers to use privacy settings to limit their audience on Instagram and Facebook to people they know well.