For one school district, two key words to handle social media: monitor and engage

For one school district, two key words to handle social media: monitor and engage

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Social media threats are now among the biggest security problems for school districts.

Administrators are struggling to find a balance between controlling social media and using it to keep people safe.

Rochelle Harris, the chief of Moss Point School District Police, spends much of her time scrolling through Facebook.

"Right now, I think it's the biggest security issue we have to face," she said.

Harris says schools have to be prepared for a long battle.

"We don't have a real choice," she said. "We're going to have to ride this bull until it tires out. I mean, people are going to make threats. They're going to be some valid threats, and there are going to be some that we cannot validate at all. But we're going to have to investigate. We check everything."

Trying to handle social media when it comes to threats and security is not going to be easy. But school administrators, like the ones at Moss Point School District, have two keywords: monitor and engage.

"We cannot do enough monitoring as parents, as police officers," Harris said. "We're going to have to continue to make sure that our children know what's good to post, what's not good to post."

Officials say it's a balance between encouraging students to report suspicious activity and discouraging bad intent.

"Some of it is attention-getting. It's just for the thrill," Harris added. "There's definitely more fuel to this fire than ever before. Because kids who didn't have a voice, now have a voice."

She said her school resource officers are more observant about student activity, particularly on their phones.

"If I see a child with a phone, I'm not going to just take the phone and lock it away, but, you know, 'What are you doing? What are you doing on there? What's going on?"

One of the best ways to find answers, Harris said, is to ask the students themselves.

"We've got to let, especially the older kids, talk back. Give us back some reasons why you think this is going on. How the kids can help us because right now, our kids are going to be the ones that have a lot of the answers that we don't have."

Moss Point currently has three resource officers, and the district should be hiring a fourth in just a matter of weeks.

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