Bristol Public Schools taking technological initiative for school safety

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After Sandy Hook, things changed dramatically in schools. There are more cameras, bulletproof glass, and safety drills; and in Bristol, they added another proactive layer of security – a computer program that monitor social media for threats.

It’s a software program called Social Sentinel. It uses an algorithm and keywords to pick out alarming posts.Teacher Christine Mace says students in crisis do turn to social media.

Related: School massacre 1 year later: A time to remember the victims

“Sometimes these kids are reaching out or if they have come to their breaking point we don’t really know it, and it just needs one person taking that extra initiative to prevent tragedy from happening.”

Greg Boulanger is the Director of Public Safety at Bristol Public Schools. He says the program has been successful in helping more than 20 teams in crisis, many of them not threatening to harm other people.

“I have had some pretty serious catches, where some young ladies have made claims of asked to commit self harm.”

It’s not perfect – if someone says, “I’m going to kill myself if the Patriots win another Super Bowl,” that will be picked up as well, and security analyzes whatever the computer puts out. 

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