Internet safety

Internet safety is being aware of victimizing issues online such as being ripped off, disrespected, bullied, harassed, scammed or stalked while online. We nurture a safe digital learning environment in our schools. This means promoting the idea of digital citizenship, defined as being a responsible, safe and ethical user of digital and internet technologies.

Rules of the road​​​

Users of the Hawaii State Department of Education's (HIDOE) Internet Portal System, Internet services and digital devices must comply with:

  • Acceptable Use Guidelines: For employees, contracted workers, volunteers and all other non-student and non-parent users of HIDOE-owned or leased digital devices. [VIEW​]
  • Technology Acceptable Use Guidelines: For students and parents. [VIEW]

Any violation of these guidelines can result in being banned from network access and/or punishment under the provisions of Chapter 19. Access is a privilege and all users of the HIDOE network and devices are expected to engage in safe, ethical behavior online.

Handling bullying, threatening and disturbing digital messages

Many students have access to their own devices as well as cellular and free-access networks, so we encourage parents to empower their children with the tools necessary to resolve these incidents when they occur. Trusted adults at schools are also available to help, and students can also use our Speak Now HIDOE app to report incidents. When abusive incidents occur on texting apps or social media platforms:

  1. Do not respond and do not retaliate. A natural reaction to an inappropriate message is to hit the reply button and fire back. As with other types of conflict, a series of back-and-forth retaliations will cloud the establishment of a "perpetrator" or a "victim." It is common for one student to claim he/she is the victim while the other says he/she is the victim, when there is a record of insults on both sides. And it is common for both students in these situations to face discipline regardless of "who started it."
  2. Report the disturbing messages/abuse to a parent or school administrator and don't be a bystander. It is difficult for victims to ask for help. They are either scared that the harassment will continue or escalate, or that they will be branded a "snitch." We encourage students who are bystanders to these messages to report bullying, threatening, and hurtful behavior so that adults may de-escalate the situation.
  3. Document the abusive, bullying, and threatening messages/behavior. If possible, take screenshots of all of the threatening messages immediately. If the instigator thinks you are going to report them to the school or police, they may try to cover their tracks by deleting their remarks or their entire account. This is especially critical in the case of a threat of violence. Although law enforcement can sometimes recover deleted messages directly from the social media provider, having a picture of the post or message can help the authorities better know how to proceed.
  4. Report abuse to the hosting site. All reputable social media sites have member guidelines and user agreements that prohibit abusive messages/behavior. They also have a mechanism that allows users to report posts, images or accounts that violate the site's user agreement. The site then has a procedure to review, remove, or ban users who violate those established guidelines. Prompt removal of abusive content is very important and can help mitigate future problems. A list of these sites and procedures can be found on the Cyberbullying Research Center here:
  5. Block the instigator from contacting the victim. The final step may be the most obvious. Use the options on social media sites and on smartphones to block accounts and phone numbers from allowing the instigator to contact the intended target. The instigator is looking for a reaction. Often times, with no one willing to play their game, they get bored and move on.

HIDOE network protection measures

The HIDOE network and its devices deploy protection measures including web content filtering and traffic monitoring in order to provide a safe and secure learning environment for students and to minimize exposure to malicious content on the web for all users. To comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), we filter student access to offensive/inappropriate content over the Internet such as pornography, abused drugs, and gambling. We also monitor for the following threats:

Online sexual predators
An online sexual predator is an adult Internet user who uses the Internet to meet and seduce vulnerable children and underage teenagers into sexual encounters. In a recent study by the University of Hawaii, it was found that online sexual predators is the top concern of students, parents and teachers. A national study of 1,501 students found that 19.0% of them had been sexually solicited online. Overall, sexual encounters with minors fall under child pornography, a felony. Social networking sites are where predators lurk most often. See the online safety tips from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI.

Cyberbullying is the the continuous and deliberate act of harassment, embarrassment, or intimidation via digital communication device. Merriam-Webster defines it as the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (as a student) often done anonymously. Pseudonymity, which is the use of a pseudonym for anonymity, seems to encourage hurtful behaviors that would otherwise not be done face to face. Cyberbullying is not tolerated in schools and warrants disciplinary action as described in Chapter 19

Cyberstalking is the obsessive pursuit of someone using digital means. There is usually a pattern of malicious or threatening behavior that results in the victim feeling credible fear and harm. Reporting cyberstalking immediately is the best way to deal with cyberstalking. National cyberstalking and cyberharassment laws are available at the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage.

Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit images​ via SMS message or other means via mobile phone, computer or any other device capable of electronic data transmission or distribution. It is against the law to sext in the state of Hawaii (§712-1215.6). Adults who sext with minors falls under child pornography, and is a felony. Minors who sext with other minors commit the offense of promoting minor-produced sexual images in the second degree, a petty misdemeanor. In a local study here, it was found that about 5 percent of 492 students surveyed had sent a sext.

Identity theft/fraud
Identify theft is the illegal use of someone else's personal information (as a Social Security number) in order to obtain money or credit as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary. Being vigilant about personal information is the best way to protect against becoming a victim. The newest forms are "SMiShing" and "vishing" where scammers will text or voicemall call you to try to get personal information. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a strong informational webpage about internet fraud protection.

Use and stealing of copyright content
Violating copyright is using someone else's creative works without giving them proper credit. The spirit of copyright is to balance the benefits of the author with the benefits to society. Teachers and students should be aware of fair use guidelines and digital millenium copyright act. Once someone puts something into a fixed medium, it is technically copyrighted. However, registering a claim on that copyright starts at $35. A recommended resource is the Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright" lessons from the Library of Congress.

Of additional concern is the use of peer-to-peer sites where mostly music and videos are shared. Sometimes, the sharing is illegal. Worse is that child pornography, violent images and viruses are found on files shared via these sites.

Awareness of viruses/malware/hacker attacks and rogue apps
Criminals no longer need to physically break into your windows and doors to steal from you. They can break into your accounts to steal key holdings and possessions by hacking and using malicious code. Being aware of the sender and the source of downloaded files is critical to being safe online. Everyone should exercise vigilance about resources and opening random files. The FBI officially calls these "computer intrusions" and considers it a key area of their cyber crimes work. Check out their E-Scams and Warnings page to keep up to date.

Digital Citizenship

More and more, our lives are becoming digitized. Students need to understand digital environments, and the broad-based impacts their behavior in these environments have. Families are engaged partners in cultivating responsibility. Namely:

  • The digital posts of today can be referenced tomorrow. What you say or do can be captured and last indefinitely.
  • Colleges, employers and the community routinely reference digital profiles. What do you want the world to know about you?
  • Being irresponsible with digital profiles and personal information can lead to identity theft.
  • As with bullying, cyberbullying is punishable under Chapter 19, which governs student misconduct and discipline. Learn more.
  • Theft of intellectual property for school assignments or other uses is punishable under Chapter 19.

Parents and families, in particular, have a crucial role to play in helping their children to become responsible digital citizens, and to train them to be ready for a digital world. This includes understanding social media, cyberbullying, privacy and internet safety, and more. Common Sense Media offers an excellent online education center for parent concerns that all families should review.

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