Students at four middle schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District were recognized recently by the school board for winning an FBI award for their performance on a cybersafety program.
A group of students and their computer exploration teacher, Steven Burrill, received a certificate from Robert C. Bone, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis division, at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. In the entire month of December, there were 1,642 schools that used the program.
The eighth-grade students go to Jackson, Northdale, Oak View and Roosevelt middle schools. The eighth-graders got an average score of 93 percent, which placed them among the top schools in the country for that month. The schools won in the “shark” category, meaning that there were more than 100 students participating.
The program is called FBI Safe Online Surfing, or FBI-SOS. The program, developed by the FBI, takes the form of interactive games.
Anyone can access the games, but only registered schools can take the exams and compete for awards. The program has different “islands,” or levels, for third-grade through eighth-grade students.
It’s designed to teach kids how to safely navigate the internet. The program teaches students how to identify predators, recognize cyberbullying, as well as the proper use of social media and other skills.
“Just like parents take measures to make sure their child is physically safe by locking the front door, we need to make sure our kids are safe online,” said Craig Lischer, an FBI spokesman.
Since the program began in 2012, there have been more than 2 million users who have taken the exams. That does not include kids who play the games and never take the test.
Four out of the six middle schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District use the program.
Jim Skelly, the district’s director of public relations and communications, said the program is necessary for kids who are growing up with technology and social media.
“We are routinely dealing with issues of improper use with students and social media,” Skelly said. “This program is part of the district’s effort to address that.”
Jeyca Maldonado-Medina is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.