Protecting our students on campus and online

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2014

Protecting our children is an awesome responsibility that becomes even more challenging in today’s digitally connected world.
As parents and educators, it is easy to watch TV, read headlines, and become worried about how we can protect our children from dangers on the Internet and in our communities. Fortunately, there are steps we can take, and I want to share what Kannapolis City Schools is doing to make sure our children are safe on our campuses and online.

One of the most effective ways to keep our children safe is by being prepared, and we are so fortunate to have the resources and expertise of the Kannapolis Police Department helping us every day. Kannapolis police work with us year round to evaluate our campuses for safety. They examine the inside and outside of every KCS school and give us suggestions for making them more secure. It was their routine evaluations that led us to relocate the main entrance of A.L. Brown High School in February.
After assessing the school, officers suggested moving the entrance. They said it would make the school safer by limiting access to the center of campus and having visitors enter through a monitored and locked doorway. The transition has been very smooth, and we are extremely grateful for the police department’s help in keeping our students safe. Officers also conduct drills with our staff to help us prepare for emergencies, and they are available at any time to answer questions or help us respond to concerns on our campuses.

Our children also face threats in the digital world, and we have taken precautions for many years to keep our children safe online. All KCS computers are equipped with advanced software that blocks students from accessing harmful or inappropriate Internet sites. In addition, all KCS schools provide Internet safety classes to students. At the middle school level, every KMS student takes Internet safety courses that show the risks of the Internet and explain how to stay safe online. Student e-mail accounts at our schools are constantly monitored and screened for offensive, threatening, violent or inappropriate language and images. We also track students’ Internet activity while they are using district computers during the school day.
As a way of helping parents, our schools periodically offer free Internet safety classes to parents. The sessions are held in the evenings and make parents aware of the risks their children face online and teach them how to monitor their children’s Internet activity at home. We also offer an Internet safety link for parents on our KCS website. It is located on the parent resources page and provides information for keeping children safe online at home.
We know the most important job of every parent, school and community is to keep our children safe. In Kannapolis City Schools, we use every resource available to protect our children and give our parents and community peace of mind. We appreciate the support of our parents and community, and we pledge to keep safety as our first priority.
Dr. Pam Cain is superintendent of Kannapolis City Schools.