Online safety focus of district-wide program

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators are doing their part to combat cyberbullying with a program designed to educate students and staff on how to use technology safely.

The program, called i-SAFE, is a national program geared toward teaching students and staff members about Internet safety.

"There are more and more instances of kids at home writing disparaging things on Facebook," KPBSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater said. "We're trying to get ahead of the curve or at least stay with the curve by having the teachers teach lessons to their kids about Internet safety."

There was a pilot program that ran last semester in select schools, but beginning this year, the program will be available at every school in the district.

The main goal of the program is to have students become knowledgeable about the appropriate use of digital tools and being safe online, KPBSD Professional Development Coordinator Lori Manion said.

"They (the students) are moving at a very rapid pace with this generation of technology, so it behooves us to be educating our students on how to not only work within the technology but also how to be safe within that technology," she said. "That's why we felt strongly that we needed to come up with instruction that would support that instruction in the classroom."

There are five main focuses within the curriculum - cyberbullying, appropriate online behavior, social networking, intellectual property and personal safety online.

"It's the downloading of music, the use of images on Google, that's the intellectual property" Manion said.

Manion, who has spent 20-plus years in the district, said the online program will also coincide with the K-12 Health curriculum.

"Part of our K-12 Health curriculum does talk about being safe online and digital safety," she said. "This will help support that piece of the curriculum."

All aspects of the program, Atwater said, are a needed addition in the district.

"It's just a real proactive, good thing to do to help our kids see the whole picture," he said.

Training for the program is slated to start Sept. 9.

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