School safety seminar to focus on dangers of social media, technology

Person wearing orange shirt holding cell phone in hands.

Event will feature national leaders on online safety, including from Meta’s Trust and Safety Team

Release Date: November 3, 2021

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Portrait of Amanda Nickerson.
“This timely seminar will address various forms of technology and social media misuse and abuse in the lives of our youth, as well other challenges that COVID-19 has had on their mental health, academic achievement and social-emotional functioning. ”
Amanda Nickerson, director of the UB Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention

BUFFALO, N.Y. – To address the perils of social media and technology that confront youth both in and outside of schools, several regional and national organizations have partnered to hold the 17th annual Reboot Safe Schools Initiative Seminar.

The free, virtual event — titled “Addressing the Misuse, Overuse and Abuse of Social Media and Technology in Schools and Online Spaces” — is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. via Zoom. Registration is required. Guests may register on the event’s website

The full-day seminar, presented this year by the Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation, will help educators, law enforcement, first responders, youth professionals, school stakeholders, conselors, psychologists, college administrators, school board members and elected officials, and parents and guardians of school-age children gain a deeper understanding of – and obtain an action plan to deal with – the dangers of digital technology affecting children and teens. 

The annual event is a forum for thousands of professionals and parents with a stake in school safety to come together and learn about important topics tied to protecting children and communities. This year’s seminar is a reboot of the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Founding sponsors include the United States Secret Service, Buffalo Field Office; the University at Buffalo Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention; the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of New York; and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, New York Office. The program also received support from its seminar sponsor, Utica National Insurance Group.

“The annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar continues to provide an invaluable platform for the [Erie County Law Enforcement] Foundation to engage our multiple stakeholder-constituencies in responding proactively to school safety issues,” says Michael Bryant, chair of the Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation, and corporate security manager at M&T Bank. Bryant is also a former special-agent-in-charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Buffalo Field Office, and first brought the Safe Schools Initiative Seminar to Western New York and held the event at UB.  

“The perils of social media abuse and the reliance of technology in our schools over the past year and a half have created serious, and sometimes dangerous, challenges to the mental health and development of our K-12 population,” he says. 

The seminar will be led by nationally recognized leaders in the promotion of safe practices on social media and the internet, and the management of the mental health challenges stemming from the inordinate use of these platforms, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Presentations include:

  • “Responding to Social Media Misuse and Abuse Among Youth,” by Sameer Hinduja, PhD, professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, and faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He is also the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Bullying Prevention. Hinduja will share his research findings and provide an action plan to deal with the major forms of technology misuse among youth today. The presentation will include specific, pragmatic school climate initiatives.
  • “‘Recovery’ from (Lingering) Covid-Related Mental Health Challenges due to Virtual Education Isolation and Other Restrictions,” by Melissa Reeves, PhD, a nationally-certified school psychologist, licensed clinical mental health counselor, licensed special education teacher, and senior consultant at SIGMA Threat Management Associates. She is also a past president of the National Association of School Psychologists. Reeves will discuss the impact of COVID-related mental health issues on academic achievement and social-emotional functioning. Participants will learn the developmental indicators of these mental health challenges, along with specific strategies to implement proactive, universal and targeted approaches that address COVIDovid-related mental health needs.
  • “Making the Internet a Safer Environment for our Students: A Presentation by Meta’s Trust and Safety Team,” by Jennifer Hanley, North American head of safety, and Alexandra Hayman, strategic engagement partner on the Trust and Safety Team, both at Meta. Hanley and Hayman will provide information about Facebook and Instagram’s tools and resources that are focused on safety and education for students who are online. They will also discuss Meta’s approach to safety, while sharing resources and tips for educators, law enforcement and others who play a role in the lives of young people.

“This timely seminar will address various forms of technology and social media misuse and abuse in the lives of our youth, as well other challenges that COVID-19 has had on their mental health, academic achievement and social-emotional functioning,” says Amanda Nickerson, PhD, director of the UB Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention and professor of counseling, school and educational psychology in the UB Graduate School of Education. “Importantly, all three sessions of this year’s Safe Schools Initiative Seminar will offer specific strategies and resources to address these issues in our schools, communities and online environments.”

For more information, visit eclef.org/this-years-seminar.

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