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School system curriculum encourages responsible technology use

It’s no secret that the internet can be a scary place, with cyberbullying and online safety becoming hot topics in recent years. More and more, schools find themselves taking the lead on instructing students how to use technology responsibly, and Beaufort County Schools is no exception.

For the past six years, the school system has utilized a specialized curriculum called i-Safe to accomplish that goal. With age-appropriate lessons for grades K-12, the curriculum is designed to both help students practice good online citizenship and navigate the online world safely.

“It’s comprehensive, grade-level-appropriate courses that are implemented throughout each school,” explained BCS Director of Instructional Technology Paul Huggins. “There are three courses that students take at the classroom level. They’re on cyberbullying, online behavior and online safety.”

As a matter of policy, the school system has a number of guidelines concerning responsible technology use and internet safety. In the BCS student Code of Conduct, the rules against bullying and harassment also apply to digital communications. Students can face severe consequences for such actions, whether they take place on campus or at home.

According to Huggins, however, the lessons BCS students learn about technology through i-Safe aren’t just for kids. They’re lessons for life that are meant to follow students into adulthood.

“Responsible use of technology is taught at the schools, and it’s to carry on with you throughout your life,” Huggins said. “No matter what stage you are or what grade level you are, the online safety rules still apply, even when you’re an adult.”

Like any lesson, repetition helps. Huggins compares it to the repeated messages kids hear about looking both ways before they cross the street — the more the message is heard, the deeper it sinks in.

“The hope is that once the curriculum is taught, those three specific courses at each grade level every year, it will bring a special awareness to how you should act online,” Huggins said. “You can’t make anybody do anything, but you surely can make them aware of it, and education is the best way to prevent things from happening that you don’t want to.”

Also in the school system’s code of conduct, students and parents who suspect issues such as cyberbullying are encouraged to report incidents to the school system. Tips can be submitted anonymously via the school system’s tip line at 252-940-6545 or via the “report a bully or harassment” link at www