Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $999,956)
The National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) plans to introduce a new program called CyberSafeSchools that will educate youth on identifying and preventing online violence. The program will teach for middle school students (ages 11-15) about topics like online solicitation and extortion, grooming and other predatory behaviors, online safety, and cyberbullying. The goals of the program are to increase awareness of the various types of violence perpetrated online and improve school climate by addressing bullying that frequently occurs online. NW3C will develop a curriculum for students with educational modules abovementioned topics, designed through research on evidence-based and trauma-informed practices and with input from subject matter experts. The student curriculum will be taught by Youth Mentors who will provide a series of presentations using the educational modules to students at select schools. Youth Mentors will be criminal justice professionals (law enforcement, victim advocates, social workers, and the like) with expertise in various forms of online violence and with educational experience. NW3C plans to hire and train four Youth Mentors in the first year of the project period, and more as needed for the program's expansion. NW3C will provide live online onboarding training to familiarize Youth Mentors with the curriculum and prepare them to facilitate the program to a youth audience. NW3C will also provide technical support to Youth Mentors as needed throughout the school year.
After the presentations have been completed, Youth Mentors will work with students to coordinate community education events with support from NW3C. Parents, guardians, and others in the community will be invited to attend the events to learn about online violence and what they can do to help keep youth safe. The CyberSafeSchools project will be implemented in two schools during the second year of the project, Northeast Lauderdale Middle School in Meridian, Mississippi, and another middle school in Clarksburg, West Virginia. After any necessary revisions are made, the program will be implemented in up to five schools during the third year of the project. After the second year of implementation, the materials will be made available online. The training for Youth Mentors will be converted into an asynchronous online onboarding training so that the program can be implemented in more schools throughout the U.S. NW3C will conduct outreach to market the website containing materials and training on a national level to expand the CyberSafeSchools program beyond the conclusion of the project period.