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In 2018, there were 114 people injured or killed in a school shooting. There were a total of 24 school shootings that resulted in injuries or deaths. On top of that, Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once and teen suicide has been shown to be on the rise in the past few years according to the CDC.
Fortunately, there are measures being taken by some great technologies to help prevent these and keep our schools safer. One of those technologies is a new app called Bark has been developed that allows parents and schools to monitor social media and text messaging and uses advanced technology and AI to prevent these things from occurring. Bark alerts parents and teachers when it detects potential threats or signs of danger, such as cyberbullying, internet predators, depression, suicidal messages, sexting, potential drug use and acts of violence.
Created in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts and law enforcement professionals, Bark delivers a research-backed, kid-friendly solution for safeguarding families as technology changes how and where they communicate. The app currently helps to protect 3 million children across the nation and is in over 1100 schools across the nation and uses data collection from 25 social media platforms, text messaging and email.
When something deemed to be inappropriate pops up, the parent or school is sent an alert. The app’s algorithm looks for inappropriate words or phrases and violent content. It not only notifies the parent or school about a potential problem, but it also provides them with information and recommendations on what to do next.
“After the Parkland Shooting, we realized we needed to roll this out to as many schools as possible and it needed to be free,” said CMO and Chief Parent Officer at Bark, Titania Jordan. “We are using machine learning algorithms to analyze conversations and when our algorithm detects a problem, it will then alert the parent or the school administrator for the best steps on how to address,” said Jordan.
For example, if a child is looking up ways to harm themselves on the internet, the app will alert the parent and then provide them with reading material about mental health and how to talk to their kids about self-harm.
To date of publication, Bark says they have successfully alerted parents and the FBI to 16 credible school shooting threats.
One case, in particular, Bark for Schools alerted Plum Borough in Pennsylvania to a potentially life-threatening situation, and they were able to get that student help. The administration was then able to use this to explain to students why the technology was so essential to their safety.
The app costs $9 per family per month but is free for schools. The creators say the more time children spend online or interacting with their phones, the more necessary tech monitoring becomes.
However, any time the idea of monitoring technology comes up, however, there are privacy concerns. Bark says it understands the balance parents are trying to strike between protecting their child from harm and respecting their privacy.
“What bark doesn’t do is give parents full access to their child’s accounts so that if there is a benign conversation in a child’s Instagram DM between a peer and them, Bark has no need to flag anything,” said Jordan. “Our ethos as a company is to educate parents and build responsible digital native, our goal is to keep children safe.”
Listen to the full interview here
Credit: Google News