February 2, 2018
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you have likely seen in the news, our District has recently experienced several issues involving students sending inappropriate photos and messages via social media. Unfortunately, this behavior is becoming all too commonplace, and it seems to be happening everywhere; it is not just a problem isolated to Vandalia-Butler. As I responded to the news media on Tuesday, this type of behavior is likely happening more often than any of us are aware. Technology and social media have drastically changed the way we all communicate, interact and behave. For teenagers, it has created a new territory which allows behavior that can often lead to severe consequences.
We as a District want to be proactive and use these issues as a means of educating all of us about the dangers this type of behavior can pose. The only positive in the current cases we are dealing with right now is that light has been shone on the problem, and now we can work together to fix it.
We are living in a digital age, and for most of us, it is making our lives more convenient. However, as great as smartphones are, and despite how incredible these devices can be as helpful learning tools, there are clear dangers to using these devices. The dangers associated with smartphones are increased with teenagers and even more with no monitoring and filtering.
During an interview with WDTN Channel 2, I was asked the question, “Are you worried this will damage the schools’ reputation?” My answer to this question did not make the air, but I feel it is important to share it with you. I answered by saying no. Although this is a bad situation we’ve been dealing with, student safety and student well-being is most important to the District, so we are going to address these cases, even if it brings negative press. We cannot let the highly publicized events of a few outweigh the many great things that go on each day in the Vandalia-Butler City School District. We have great students, great families, great staff, and great community resources and partnerships. I am confident we will continue to do great things as a District.
As part of our proactive plan, you can expect to receive information from the District in regards to this topic and upcoming opportunities for parents and students. We will be offering educational opportunities to help inform all about the dangers of social media, the effects of excessive screen time, and psychological effects that are trending and being related to teens and social media usage. Please check out the article in this the link below; it is information I believe you will find informative and eye-opening.
Thank you for your time and remember, We Are Aviators!
Robert M. O’Leary
Superintendent of Schools