DFi Presents at the International School Safety Institute on Teen Culture

By Mark Newcomer, DFi Board Member.

During the week of September 30, the International School Safety Institute held its annual conference in San Diego. The mission of the organization and conference is to have a positive impact on safe school culture and climate. To this end, an impressive group of speakers were lined up for 3 days of presentations and workshops for top education professionals. One of these workshops was run by DFi’s own Jay Martin – an experienced youth education and safety instructor and our director of curriculum at DFi.

As a board member of DFi with a corporate background versus one in education, I got the unique experience of sitting tableside in what proved to be a very interesting set of conversations. I also got to speak with some of the presenters as well as other attendees.

One speaker in particular, John Callery, made a remark that is really sticking with me. Mr. Callery is with the DEA and is an Assistant Special Agent in Charge. His career has spanned continents for the DEA and currently focuses on addressing the opioid issues in America. To say that there is a battle underway is quite an understatement and hearing about the realities the DEA faces in fighting the current epidemic is both eye opening and a little disheartening.

For example, only 675 DEA agents are assigned to enforce compliance with 1.7 million entities that are part of the opioid supply and distribution chain. While this group is making a big impact with the limited resources they have, two small pharmacies in the same town of just over 3000 people received shipments of over 20 million pills. While this is an extreme example, it is happening all over the United States and the issues stem from criminal negligence all the way to outright criminal behavior.

This example also highlights that a lack of education has played a major role in opioid addiction. As consumers, we trust our doctors and pharmacists, but were not properly educated on what it means to get a opioid prescription. We did not know the right questions to ask, what alternatives to explore, or how to lookout for severely negative side effects. Clearly, the events of the last few years have educated us, but not in the most ideal way. We learned the harms way too late and this has had dire consequences for many communities across the country.

While this example is hard to hear, Callery also had a simple, yet powerful message; when it comes to the people we care the most about (family members, colleagues, friends). Callery reminds us we often have best interests in mind. However, not all of use choose to get educated on how to support those best interests – whether it be safer school environments or understanding the impact of today’s modern drugs on society.

It is for this reason, I am reminded of the importance of mission for a non-profit like Digital Futures. Our mission is quite straightforward. It is simply to provide educational resources that enlighten schools and communities on how to navigate life in a digital age – one with perils that are not understood as well as opportunities that can be take advantage of. Similar to the opioid issue, this is an important topic and without education, many schools, communities, and students stand to be negatively impacted.

Hearing speakers like Callery, and some his colleagues like Will Chapman, a school resource officer from Newtown, CT and first responder during the Sandy Hook incident, or Dan Wold, a superintendent of a Nevada school district, a common theme emerges. Essentially we need tools, frameworks, and evidence-based curriculum that supports how our schools take care of their students, create safer environments, and most importantly, create a positive climate for dealing with the world they find themselves in, which is dramatically different from the world today’s teachers, parents, and school resources officers may have grown up in.

In ending, my takeaway from attending a conference like this, one organized by amazing and dedicated professionals, is to remember that we can choose to be more educated and we can choose to use the resources available to better educate those around us. At DFi we focus on doing this with a positive message and the goal of transferring practical skills.

Thanks to Jay Martin for taking the time and energy to bring DFi to this important audience.

For more information about DFi and our progressive curriculum on digital citizenship, please visit our pages for parents, teachers, and school resource officers, and subscribe to our newsletter. If our content is a good fit for your situation…get started now.

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Digital Futures Initiative (DFi)

DFi’s mission is to empower educators, parents and communities with informative, useful resources and solutions to help guide today’s digitally-connected youth on making better decisions, mitigating digital threats and using the power of digital, mobile and social media for their benefit. DFi provides the necessary tools and training programs for educators, law enforcement (SRO’s) and parents to help them instruct kids on safer, more responsible internet and mobile use, and to better manage specific problems that can arise—including cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, substance use, loss of emotional intelligence, distracted driving and more. Digital Futures Initiative (DFi) was created to deliver digital life skills to students and parents in an innovative, consistent way. Lessons are designed by curating the best and most current content available in the world and the curriculum is made available for FREE to any school, county or group who needs it. The program includes all of the self-paced online training, powerpoints, images, videos, presenter’s notes, and in-class activities that are needed to start teaching digital citizenship in your classrooms today. To sign up simply go to https://Certify.DFiNow.org and register as a new user after that use as many of the lessons that you need.

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