(This letter was sent home to all students in grade 6 to 8.)
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Last week, I became aware of an incident involving Thorp students. The issue involved inappropriate messages and images shared via Instagram. Although the incident took place away from school grounds, a number of our students did receive these images.
At Thorp, we have been proactive in helping students realize their digital responsibilities and the dangers associated with the inappropriate use of social media sites such as Facebook, SnapChat and others. Last year, we had the Chicago Police Department Internet Unit speak to our middle school students about being safe while online. They spoke to the students about the fact that anything posted on the internet is there – FOREVER! They also mentioned the importance of maintaining an unblemished digital identity.
This letter is intended to help inform you about ways to ensure the safety of your children. We often do not realize what our children are posting and how they are portraying themselves online. Please take time to have your child show you their social media sites. Ask to see their cellphones. Go through their apps. Find out what they are putting out there for everyone to see. Then discuss how prospective high schools, colleges, or future employers would react to their posts. If the image your child is presenting is one that is inappropriate, it will have negative consequences.
Finally, I am here to ensure the safety of all students at Thorp with regards to school. If your child is cyber bullying, sexting, or posting text or images that will disturb the learning environment at school, I will act to ensure that the CPS Student Code of Conduct is enforced. If mandated by the Student Code of Conduct, I will also inform appropriate law enforcement officials. No one deserves to be bullied, harassed or intimidated by anyone else, whether online or at school. I take these incidents seriously. Anything that intentionally harms the students at Thorp will be dealt with as a school matter.
We will again be addressing our 6th to 8th graders with the Chicago Police Department regarding Internet safety and their digital citizenship. On the Thorp website, I will post a guide to familiarize you with apps your child may be using, and how they use them. We live in a world where we cannot hide from technology, but we must be wise and responsible in how these new methods of communication are being used by our children. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please call or email me.
Thank you for your time.
Efren Toledo – Principal