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Glendale School District monitors student social media sites for crime

August 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
High School students use social media sites to stay connected, but sometimes social media is used to bully others or even document crimes, such as vandalism. The Glendale Unified School District is now monitoring thousands of its own students' online activities.

The district has a hired a company to monitor those social media sites for evidence of cyber-bullying, vandalism, and even drug-use by students attending Glendale schools.

"All this useless cyber bullying is going on on social media, and unfortunately, it's caused a lot of suicides and stuff," said Glendale High School sophomore Jared Singzon.

Last year, sophomore Drew Ferraro jumped to his death in front of other students at Crescenta Valley High School. His parents maintained that his death was caused in part by bullying.

Superintendent Richard Sheehan says that incident, along with school shootings and threats in other parts of the country all motivated the district to hire an outside company to monitor students' social media activity.

"Last year, we ran a trial at three of the schools and found it to be very useful, and we were able to intervene," said Sheehan.

The district hired the company Geo Listening to identify students' online postings of bullying, despair, hate, crime and substance abuse. The company says it's not invading anyone's privacy.

"All of the individual posts we monitor on social media networks are already made public by the students themselves. Therefore, no privacy is violated," the company said.

Some students disagree.

"I don't really think it's necessary for schools to monitor it," said sophomore Sausha Perry.

But other teens think the service, which provides daily reports to the district, is a good idea.

"If a student is having a problem and they have no other outlet other than to go to social media, then if the school is monitoring, they can pick it up and they can do something about it," said Glendale High School senior Eden Marzucco.

Geo Listening said it has intervened on numerous occasions. The company said it is bridging the technology gap between teens and adults.


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