Lightspeed Issues White Paper on IT's Role in Dealing with School Sexual Misconduct
Research has indicated that as many as 10 percent of K-12 students are the targets of sexual misconduct by school employees at some point during their years of attendance, often leading to lifelong social, psychological, and/or occupational issues. Seeking to address this ongoing problem from a technology standpoint, network security and management provider Lightspeed Systems has issued a white paper entitled "Forensics: Identifying, Investigating, and Prosecuting Sexual Misconduct in Your School."
The white paper addresses the key issues related to inappropriate sexual behavior via technology in the school environment, including effective policy to deter such behavior and where proverbial lines must be drawn; using network activity reports to identify questionable behavior; and how to collect the evidence necessary to punish and even prosecute violators.
Lightspeed noted that employee predatory behavior often begins with lower level infractions such as bringing pornography onto school grounds or engaging in inappropriate behavior with students. In response to such activity, the white paper recommends regular review of user activity, including review of:
- Traffic to sites that could be inappropriate, suspicious or blocked searches;
- Users remaining on the network for unnecessarily long periods of time;
- Repeated attempts by a user to access unsuitable content; and
- High volume communications via e-mail or instant messaging between an educator and a student.
Another best practice recommended by the report is that every school and district "update the acceptable use policy annually and keep a signed copy on file for every student, teacher and staff member. The document should provide specific examples of acceptable and unacceptable uses, a listing of all technologies to which the policy applies, usage policies, consequences for infringement, and a disclaimer."
Finally, the report offers recommendations specific to IT practices if a network activity review indicates possible suspicious behavior, including procedures for protecting the individuals involved--no matter the situation, an individual is constitutionally protected against the presumption of guilt--and the district, preserving the evidence, reporting the indicated behavior in conjunction with policy, and receiving proper authorization to investigate further.
Lightspeed Systems will offer a free webinar on the topic of computer forensic investigation, with several elements specific to internal investigations by schools and districts, in January 2010. Those interested in registering should visit the company Web site. The white paper is available for download here.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.