Montana Department of Justice
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Given the amount of time students spend online both at home and in school, it is critical that teachers provide guidance on safe Internet practices and strategies to help students talk about this important subject with their parents. There is a vital need nationwide for more education on both the dangers associated with the Internet as well as preventive measures we all can take to keep ourselves and our youth safe online. Teachers can play a significant role in addressing this need by becoming aware of Internet safety issues, statistics, strategies and terminology. When teachers work with students on Internet safety issues, is it important that they build discussions and activities that clearly demonstrate how easy it is to be tricked while online, particularly into trusting the identity of an individual who is claiming to be someone they aren’t. According to the 2006 study, Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later (PDF), when young people go online:

  • 13% (1 in 7) received unwanted sexual solicitations
  • 34% communicate with individuals they have never met
  • 11% establish close personal relationships with individuals they meet online

Teachers also need to be aware that their students are even more likely to be cyberbullied.


Cyberbullying is widespread. A 2008 study (PDF) of 1,454 students aged 12 to 17 found that nearly three quarters of students reported being bullied online in the past 12 months (72%) and that they knew the perpetrators (73%).  In the past 12 months:

  • 41% of the students reported being cyberbullied between 1 and 3 times
  • 13% reported 4 to 6 incidents
  • 19% reported 7 or more incidents(Juvonen and Gross, Extending the school grounds?—Bullying experiences in cyberspace, 2008)

However, only 1 in 10 students reported it to an adult. Insults were the No. 1 reported problems, and password theft was the second highest ranking issue. This involves someone stealing a password, logging onto an account and sending or uploading content that makes the account owner look bad. The study also found that:

  • 75% of the respondents were female.
  • Girls were far more likely to use blogs, Instant Messaging (IM), email and cell phones than boys.
  • Most often, cyberbullying was done through IM.
  • Students who frequently used webcams were the most likely to be repeatedly bullied.

The Internet allows anyone to target someone else or to become a target themselves. With today’s phone and Web technology, students can now maintain constant contact with friends and others, but it can also expose them to hateful messages and disturbing images. The majority of cyberbullying takes place outside of school, and so falls largely outside of school disciplinary rules.  Nonetheless, the fallout can spill over into the classroom when hurt feelings, lack of cooperation, and hostility interfere with students’ schoolwork and interactions.

[blockquote]“This new phenomenon raises concerns for school officials regarding the extent of their legal authority and responsibility,” especially considering that this is new territory without extensive case law to inform decision-making. —Willard, N. E.  (2007). The authority and responsibility of school officials in responding to cyberbullying.[/blockquote]

Implications for School Policies – As rates of cyberbullying escalate, many youth are living with it on a daily basis, sometimes to tragic ends.  Stories about the harm done by cyberbullying have surfaced more frequently in the news media, and many states and schools within the U.S. are scrambling to write laws and policies to respond to this phenomenon.  Given the pervasiveness of cyberbullying, schools are in a position to proactively (if not, reactively) address the occurrence of cyberbullying in their schools or districts. Although cyberbullying often occurs off school grounds, the ramifications spill over into the classroom and have a significant influence on a student’s ability to learn. Researchers have also found that many students who view cyberbullying as a problem report that it is rarely discussed at school. These same students also felt that school district personnel were not helpful resources in dealing with cyberbullying.  (Agatston, P. W., R. Kowalski & S. Limber. (2007). Student’s perspectives on cyber bullying.  Journal of Adolescent Health 41: S59-60.) Nancy Willard of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use urges school officials to consider their “authority” and “responsibility” in responding to cyberbullying. Willard stresses that:

“This new phenomenon raises concerns for school officials regarding the extent of their legal authority and responsibility,” especially considering that this is new territory without extensive case law to inform decision-making. —Willard, N. E.  (2007). The authority and responsibility of school officials in responding to cyberbullying.  Journal of Adolescent Health 41: S64-S65

Willard is particularly concerned that a failure to address cyberbullying could lead to liability under civil rights or negligence laws. Although many schools have created barriers to prevent students from accessing social network sites or other inappropriate Internet material, or from using their cell phones while on school grounds, many students know how to bypass filters and firewalls, and still use cell phones while on campus. For these reasons, it makes sense for educators to include students in the conversation about how to address the challenges of cyberbullying.  By doing so, many students will gain ownership of the problem and will take on much greater responsibility for their actions. It is important to involve students in policy development in an area that so directly affects their safety and well being.  Some of the specific steps that school officials can take to address cyberbullying include:

  • involving students in identifying cyberbullying problems at the school or district level
  • developing a Youth Internet Safety Team at the school or district level
  • involving students in designing cyberbullying policies to add to the school’s Acceptable Use of Technology Policy, and requiring that teachers, parents and students read and sign the policy
  • adopting bullying prevention programs that include lessons on cyberbullying
  • providing educational materials or trainings for parents and students related to Internet safety and cyberbullying
  • ensuring that cellular phone policies are enforced with consistent consequences for students
  • involving students in developing Internet Responsibility Guidelines for each classroom
  • developing a youth mentoring program for high school students to teach younger students about Internet safety

Ideas for Teachers

Almost any structured curriculum on Internet safety, whether sequential or not, should:

  • map to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS),
  • be aware of No Child Left Behind requirements,
  • align with the Montana Content Standards for Technology and Library Media/Information Literacy standards,
  • comply with your district’s Acceptable Use Policy for technology integration/usage, and
  • comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Districts that receive E-Rate and/or Title II, Part D: Enhancing Education Through Technology funding, must have an Internet Safety policy that meets CIPA’s requirements.

Ideally, this curriculum and related lessons would involve community and parent outreach components., CyberSmart! and Stay Safe Online offer free curriculum ideas to help educators incorporate Internet safety education into their schools and curriculum. The following links provide a variety of online and classroom activities for grades K-2, 3-4, 5-6, middle school and high school:

NetSmartz Safety Presentations NetSmartz Activity Cards NetSmartz Online and Offline Activities

Teachers and staff can work together to incorporate Internet safety initiatives and media literacy into service learning projects and school safety related grant programs. Schools may also want to consider working with their District’s technology coordinator to utilize anti-plagiarism software/scanners. Programs such as i-SAFE offer Internet safety training for teachers and the Montana Safe Schools Center offers Internet safety awareness programs for parents, students and educators.

Important Themes

Students need to understand that, if they (or someone else) upload photos or information to the Internet, that information can never be retrieved or controlled. Remind your students that once a picture is posted on the Internet, it is impossible to control how that image is used by others or to completely delete it. It is essentially there for the foreseeable future. Teach your students that once something is on the Internet, anyone can access it. Anyone can download it, resend it, print it and even edit or redesign it to look like something it is not. For example, someone may download another teen’s photo, create a fictitious profile on a site like MySpace using the name of the person in the photo, and use this profile to spread malicious rumors or threats. Tech savvy individuals can also download a photo and alter it by replacing the body with someone else’s body or adding other images to the photo. Talk with your students about online dangers and what constitutes being a good cybercitizen. Explain cyberbullying, identity theft, the dangers of meeting someone he or she meets online, and the warning signs that an online “friend” may be an Internet predator interested in sexually abusing a child or teenager. Discuss the benefits, dangers and responsibilities associated with using peer-to-peer networks/file sharing sites. For instance, students need to understand Fair Use and Copyright Law when they use material without permission from the person who created it.

Cheating and Plagiarism*

One of the greatest benefits of technology, as students have discovered, is how it can help with studying. Vast stores of information, descriptive videos, scientific simulations, and more are at their fingertips to help them understand concepts or find facts for reports. Web sites and web-based tools let students publish their writing, artwork, videos and more—and get valuable feedback from others. Students who learn in different ways can find multiple ways to approach nearly any topic, helping them learn in the way that works best for them. Technology also allows students to store large amounts of data on small, portable tools such as flash drives, wireless devices and cell phones. They can solve math problems using online calculators, instant message (IM) a friend for information, conduct a Web search with their cell phone, or download a podcast of their teacher’s lecture to their iPod. On the flip side, students can download essays from online paper mills or find free analyses of novels, plays and poems on sites such as CliffsNotes, AntiStudy and Free Book The wide availability and thoroughness of these types of sites poses a challenge for educators who expect students to do their own work. Instead of forbidding students from using these sites (which is often ineffectual), teachers can instead consider letting the technology work with them. For example, one Montana teacher allows his students to use their cell phones during test time. Akin to the “lifeline” on TV game shows such as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” students can “phone a friend” within a five-minute window for help in answering a test question. To reduce cheating and plagiarism, consider the following ideas:

  • Speak with your students about the proper, legitimate and responsible use of technology for study.
  • Remind students of your school’s policy on cheating and plagiarism, and make penalties clear.
  • Discuss the benefits of citing sources, and analyze with them the quality of essays from paper mills.
  • Let your students know that you have tools — such as and Glatt Plagiariasm Services — to detect cheating and plagiarism. Importantly, these tools are not foolproof; some savvy students will find ways to avoid detection.
  • Facilitate a discussion among your students to help them generate their own Internet guidelines. Document these guidelines, post them in the classroom, and revisit them often. Students will take on much greater responsibility for their actions if they have a vested role in defining that responsibility.

*This section based on the article Safety Net: Help your students avoid getting caught up in bullying, cheating, or privacy problems, authored by Russell Grimes and Sindie Spencer Kennedy of the Montana Safe Schools Center, in Cable in the Classroom, July/August 2008.

Specific Classroom Ideas

1. Instruct students to critically analyze reality shows on television to observe bullying behavior, such as exclusion from groups, public humiliation, verbal abuse, etc. The exercise encourages students to develop critical analysis skills and to recognize the prevalence of bullying behavior in popular culture and how this behavior becomes accepted as normal.

2. Let your students teach you what they know about computers. This will open up communication and empower the students.

3. Visit your students’ favorite sites with them.

4. Look at multiple websites with your students and then discuss how to tell if a site is secure and/or if it would be easy for people to create fake identities on a site.

5. Have students Google themselves and share with you what they find.

6. Partner your students with the school newspaper or an English class project to write a series of articles about Internet safety.

7. Have your students talk about their online experiences in a structured, supportive group setting, possibly facilitated by your school counselor. 

8. Discuss Netiquette (proper online behavior) with students and guide them to develop empathy and a greater sense of respect for others by taking on the responsibility of cyber citizenship. Allow students to design their own guidelines for appropriate online behavior. Post these guidelines in the classroom and revisit them often.

9. Work with your students to create clear, simple and easy-to-read Internet safety rules, post them near computers and revisit them often. Consider developing safety pledges that you and your students agree on, will commit to and are willing to sign. To get started, see the Netsmartz Safety Pledges.

10. Some districts require students and parents to sign an Acceptable Use Policy before students are allowed to use school computers or the Internet. Some schools view it as requiring students to get their “Internet driver’s license.”

11. Create a list of key Internet-related buzzwords and safety tips. Then have students create informational posters or tip sheets to be shared with parent groups and senior citizen organizations. See the Glossary for ideas.

12. Have your elementary students write Internet safety related letters to their parents as a way of helping open discussion at home on this topic.

13. Have a discussion with your elementary students about the similarities and differences between safety rules in the real world and in the cyber world.

14. Have students create sample screen names and discuss the implications of those names.

15. Partner with your school resource officer to help facilitate discussions on Internet safety.


Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.


Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.


Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.


Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.


Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.


Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.


Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.


Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.


Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.


Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.


Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.


Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.


Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.


Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.


Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.


Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.


Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.


Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.


Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.


Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.