How MCPSS uses technology to keep kids safe on electronic devices

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile County Public School System uses a special program to monitor what your kids do while on school-owned devices, to help keep children safe.

The school system uses Learnsafe, which is loaded onto every device owned by the school system.

“Any time we can stop something before it turns into something major, it’s critical or crucial,” said Andy Gatewood, the Director of Safety and Security for MCPSS.

The program monitors for specific words and phrases, anything that could be a potential self-harm issue, inappropriate, or a threat.

“This has monitored the computers even when they are at home on their personal networks. It is only loaded onto our equipment; it is not loaded onto any personal devices,” Gatewood said.

The past year, with school computers going home, they were able to continue to check on their students.

“This has been a very stressful time for everybody, including the young people. So if they have had any self-harm-type thoughts or anything of that nature, it immediately notifies us,” Gatewood said.

The school system has been using this program for several years. The program will send a notification to security if a word or phrase is used.

“Historically throughout the country, kids talk about things, if they have thoughts, they talk with their friends. This gives us an opportunity to monitor some of the things they’re discussing. And again, anything we need to be concerned with or take action about — we can do that very quickly,” said Gatewood.

Gatewood says they do get notifications routinely, but not all of the notifications are anything that needs attention and may be a false positive.

This program does allow the school system to start conversations with students who may be struggling.

“Allows us to maybe intercept them and talk to them, make sure they’re OK, and get them whatever help they need,” Gatewood said.

The school system says they do take everything seriously, investigate when needed and get school resource officers or counsellors involved if needed.

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