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Albany district alerts parents to planned 'Exposure Day,' takes action

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ALBANY -- The City of Albany School District says it was informed about a so-called "exposure day" from a concerned middle school student, who said from Thursday into Friday, students would take part in the day by posting or sharing photos or videos on social media that would embarrass, shame, or expose their fellow classmates.

"I've not had any exposure to 'exposure day,' as it's referenced."

Albany Schools Superintendent Kaweeda Adams says she hasn't seen students making a day of publicly shaming fellow classmates on social media in other places she's worked in - and she's not sure where it stemmed from here.

"We want to make sure our students are using social media in a responsible way," Adams said.

The district says a student-reported "Exposure Day" is when students share photos or videos on social media intended to embarrass or expose other students. But Adams says - they won't get away with it.

"It impacts the school, so when it comes back to impact the school, we absolutely look at that big umbrella of cyber bullying, and what are those consequences that blown for those students who engage in that inappropriate activity," Adams said.

The district sent a letter to parents district-wide on Thursday night warning them of this "potentially serious social media safety concern."

"It's just really scary as a parent, it's difficult to talk about and it's a really serious issue, they're so vulnerable at this age."

Christina Coppola has a son in the school district. She says she appreciated the quick response by the superintendent and notes that monitoring social media is difficult.

"At 15 years old, handing me his phone is like the last thing he wants to do, so it is really really tricky," Coppola said.

The letter from the district lets parents know that the school's have full staff and administration on hand to identify students involved in any posts and those impacted by them. Adams says consequences could range from suspension to expulsion, or even charges pressed - but she says she's thankful for the good relations between staff and students that allowed the information to be shared.

"We want our students to feel comfortable to come and report to us anything that may be happening that makes them uncomfortable," Adams said.

We're told there was one incident this morning but that the administration is fully investigating. The letter sent home also references resources for parents and students, including using common sense of social media and dealing with depression - here's a copy of the full letter:

A message from Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams

October 5, 2017

Social media safety and awareness

I am writing to let you know about a potentially serious social media safety concern that several students at the middle-school level brought to our attention during the school day Thursday, Oct. 5. Our students reported to us that beginning Thursday evening and continuing into Friday, Oct. 6 there may be a social media event they referred to as “Exposure Day.” This could include the posting or sharing of photos or video intended to shame, embarrass, humiliate, intimidate or otherwise “expose” other students.

The City School District of Albany is taking this information seriously. Our staff, including our social workers, behavior specialists and school psychologists, are prepared to identify any students who appear to be having a difficult time emotionally. We urge you to talk with your children at home about the importance of avoiding inappropriate behavior in any form, including social media. Shaming or embarrassing another student online or in any context is considered a form of bullying and harassment under the Dignity for All Students Act, and a violation of our Student Code of Conduct.

We also are providing resources from the National Association of School Psychologists to help you talk with your children if you believe they may be having a difficult time. Examples could include sadness, anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, etc. You also can download this letter with additional resources and information included.

• Common Sense Media. Social media, social life: How teens view their digital lives.

o https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/social-media-social-life-how-teens-view-their-digital-lives

• Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators

o https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/preventing-youth-suicide-tips-for-parents-and-educators

• Save a Friend: Tips for Teens to Prevent Suicide

o https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/save-a-friend-tips-for-teens-to-prevent-suicide

We commend our students for bringing this information to our attention immediately. Please talk with your children about the importance of letting you, a school official or another adult know whenever they encounter a situation or information that concerns or confuses them. Thank you for your continued partnership in our efforts to ensure the safety and security of all of our students.

Yours in education,

Kaweeda G. Adams

Superintendent of Schools

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