Friday, December 23, 2016

When A School's Online Eavesdropping Can Prevent A Suicide : NPR Ed : NPR

When A School's Online Eavesdropping Can Prevent A Suicide : NPR Ed : NPR:

When A School's Online Eavesdropping Can Prevent A Suicide


Ken Yeh thought his school was buying software to keep kids off of certain websites.
What he didn't know was that it could help identify a student who might be considering suicide.
Yeh is the technology director at a private K-12 school near Los Angeles. Three years ago, the school began buying Chromebook laptops for students to use in class and at home. That, Yeh says, raised concerns from parents about what they'd be used for, especially outside of school.
He turned to a startup called called GoGuardian, which helped the school create a list of off-limits sites: porn, hacking-related sites and "timewasters" like online games, TV and movie streaming. The software also has another feature: It tracks students' browsing and their searches.
And that's how Yeh was alerted that a student appeared to be in severe emotional distress.
He recalls getting an indicator at work that a student had been searching for suicide and several related terms. "I then went in to view the student's browsing history around this time period."
The more he saw, the more Yeh was convinced that this wasn't an idle or isolated query.
There were other warning signs in the web browsing of this student as well: searchers for specific methods of self-harm and "terms that strongly suggested that the student was struggling with certain issues," he says.
Yeh alerted the principals and the student was brought in to speak with a guidance counselor. That conversation, Yeh says, led to positive interventions. "It was a little unexpected. We weren't thinking about this as a usage for GoGuardian."



Yet in the nearly four years that GoGuardian has been in use at this school, this type of incident has happened four separate times, he says. And GoGuardian says that across the 2,000 districts where its software is in use, it has heard similar anecdotes dozens of times.
Rodney Griffin, the Chromebook coordinator for the Neosho School District in When A School's Online Eavesdropping Can Prevent A Suicide : NPR Ed : NPR:


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