October 1st marks the beginning of National Bullying Prevention Month in the US. We are once again pleased to support several anti-bullying initiatives (e.g., NCSAM and The Tyler Clementi Foundation’s new Day One campaign) during this month. To start things off, we take a look back at the Kickstarter project we launched one year ago to raise funding and awareness for our technology to detect cyberbullying and self-harm. Thanks to all the parents and school IT admins who have helped – and continue to help – support our efforts to improve the online safety for the K-12 students we serve.
Narrator: Bullying has always been a serious issue in schools, often leading to a negative impact on academic achievement and mental health, including risk of depression or even suicide. And now, with increased use of social networking, it’s no longer happening on playground and in hallways, but rather behind the screens of student devices. In other words, teachers and parents can no longer see bullying in action. 21st century technology not only creates this problem, but is also capable of solving it.
Securly is a Silicon Valley based educational technology company that is dedicated to online child safety and learning analytics. We were founded by enterprise security veterans and now in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, we are partnering with an expert in pattern recognition to develop a technology that alerts parents and school administrators about incidents of bullying and other harmful behavior.
Yi Zhang: “For many kids, they don’t tell their parents when bad things happen to them. Using artificial intelligence techniques, we hope to solve this problem. I have been working with Securly on this problem as their advisor. Hopefully we can help kids together.”
Karl Rivers: “On an almost weekly basis, we have students coming in with mainly smaller issues and sending inappropriate messages to each other though social networks, all the way up to some more significant issues with e-safety.”
Mark Nelson: “I think we have a good handle and training on what goes on what goes on within the halls, but I don’t know that we’ve spent a lot of time looking into what happens away from school.”
Maya M: “I was personally bullied, through social media, through texting. I think that a lot of people – almost everybody – has experienced that, not what I’ve experienced, but their own individual situations at some point in their life just without realizing it because it’s so frequent. But with me, it was very impactful in my life just because it came from my best friend. And that was not a pleasant experience at all.
People, if they see someone shoving a kid into a locker in a hallway, they’re going to say something, obviously. Whereas, if you comment something very harsh online, or on a picture, people are going to actually stand up for the bully themselves. So it’s hard to really realize that you’re the one that’s committing that act.”
Colleen M (mother): “Had I not been able to get access to her phone, which is usually glued to her side, I wouldn’t have known [about the bullying]. And it was to the point where there could have been potential legal action against some of the things that this girl was saying, and going out to how many people?”
Narrator: Securly already serves hundreds of thousands of students, and provides administrators and parents with insights into online student activity. We’ve developed a prototype for the industry’s first monitoring engine capable of capturing sentiments and emotions behind posts on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and searches performed on sites like Google and Bing. Our sentiment analysis engine uses natural language processing to detect the keyword patterns in a message. This allows us to flag any suspicious activity buried within millions of social posts and online searches. These powerful algorithms enable us to distinguish the casual sentiment in “I hate this sweater” from the strong negative sentiment in “Everyone at school hates me.” We then classify these suspicious activities into behavioral categories such as bullying, grief, and violence. We also make it easy to get a complete trail of your child’s activity surrounding a specific post or tweet.
We are deeply committed to our new sentiment analysis offering. Kickstarters will be the first to get access to technology, along with some other great rewards listed on our Kickstarter page. Thank you for your support.