Staff Editorial: Social media is our responsibility

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Editorial Following numerous incidents and threats of school violence across the country, a number of schools have taken to hiring companies to monitor student social media to ensure student safety.
New Trier, however, has opted out, putting their trust in the student population. And this is where we need to step in.

Having privacy on social media and in our private lives is important. It gives us the chance to share our opinions freely, without fear of administrators combing through our 2 a.m. Twitter rants.

This freedom comes with a responsibility, for each and every student. Because the school isn’t monitoring, it’s our job to report any suspect behavior we see online that could threaten the safety of our school. Social media is our generation’s territory and, therefore, it’s our obligation to oversee it.

In middle and high school health classes, we’re taught not to be a bystander–this applies to social media as well. If someone is being hurt or threatened, just scrolling past it is the same thing as walking past and not helping at all.
Every school is mandated to have an anonymous tip line, which is available to everybody including students, parents, and community members. NT’s is accessible through the school website, and tips can be submitted via phone call or Google Form. Those who are uncomfortable or afraid to report something to a teacher can use these platforms to raise their concerns.

Social media monitoring companies have yet to prove that they work, but students looking out for one another can have success. For example, a student with depression posting something despairing may trigger their classmates to reach out to the social services department or their adviser, prompting the student to reach out for help.
Signs may be less obvious, though: like retweeting a disturbing post from someone else’s account or sharing a one-second image of something menacing on Snapchat. We scroll through hundreds of images and read thousands of posts a day, but by just taking an extra second to think, we can recognize what’s not quite right.

And by reporting to the school, or even just to your parents or friends to discuss and potentially take further action, we can help our fellow classmates, and possibly save lives.

Algorithms to detect potential threats can’t compare to what students themselves are capable of seeing. A joke about how much someone hates their first-period class is a lot different than a legitimate threat, but a computer program could raise the same type of alerts for both incidents. That’s why students themselves are the best line of protection.

The school takes many measures to ensure student well-being and safety, but this one is left to us. Trust is earned not given, so we as students need to make sure that we watch out for warning signs of potential violence of bullying in order to keep our online privacy.

Remember, as all the airport signs say, if you see something, say something.

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