BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Referencing an incident at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, superintendent Russell Lazovick said Tuesday that students need to see good models of digital citizenship to counteract the negative reality of social media.
Although he declined to give specifics, Lazovick said that administration at the middle school have recently been forced to deal with the spreading of false information regarding threats at the middle school.
Lazovick encouraged everyone to confirm information before disseminating it on social media, and to remember the victims of any kind of negative use of social media.
“Report things to a responsible adult,” he said. “The sooner we become apprised of an issue, the sooner we can deal with it.”
Below is the message in its entirety that Lazovick sent to members of the BRMS community earlier this week regarding the issue:
“Parents and Guardians,
Over the past eighteen hours, we have received hundreds of communications regarding alleged events at the middle school. Given the reach of social media and its tendency to sensationalize as much as inform, we want to keep everyone on the same page as we support our students.
The district has been in contact with the Bridgewater Police and at this time there is no credible threat to our building or students. We want to thank the students and adults who, upon receiving concerning messages, acted responsibly, not spreading these messages as fact but rather contacting either building administration or the police.
Not only has the sharing of rumor created unnecessary stress across our community, it has unfairly singled out individual students and subjected them to unfair speculation. As the police are involved, students who irresponsibly incited false public alarm are being held accountable.
Once again, we need to reinforce with our students critical skills and behaviors that will serve them well now and as they grow. We need to constantly revisit topics of safety with our students through regular, meaningful, age-appropriate conversations with them.
Finally, both at school and at home, students need to be reminded of the dangers of hearsay and how they are accountable when sharing information. Students need to remember that when they hear something or read something, it is not automatically a fact. They need to verify appropriately and report as necessary. It is important that we teach of the dangers of social media and how baseless “information” can reach a wide audience in seconds. We need to teach that we all have a responsibility to effectively verify information before spreading it as fact.
Students should not ignore concerning messages. On the contrary, they should immediately share the information with an appropriate adult. Communication is key in these situations, and students need to understand the differences between responsible action and irresponsible action.
The school-home connection is one of the most powerful partnerships we have to teach our students. Please have these conversations with your children so they hear similar messages at school and at home.
Thank you for your collaboration in teaching our students and keeping them safe.”