Use of social media is nonstop among Saxe Middle School students and, with drugs and alcohol, represents a major danger facing New Canaan youth, safety officials said Monday night.
No matter how much trusted adults warn middle school students about the pitfalls of social media, “it doesn’t matter,” New Canaan Police Officer Jeff Deak, the school resource officer at Saxe, told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting.
“And I throw into the mix the dangers of social media and you participating in illegal activities like vaping under 18, or drinking or doing drugs, and posting them,” he told the school board at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “Those issues, in my opinion—the alcohol, the drugs and the social media—are the big issues. I know some of you are looking saying, ‘What else is there?’ There are other parts. There is a social-emotional part of growing up that is difficult.”
Saxe Middle School counselors, social workers and the psychologists do a good job of “building on that foundation,” Deak said, in order to “chip away and help some of these kids.”
He was answering a question from Board of Ed member Penny Rashin following a presentation from the district’s Crisis Advisory Board or ‘CAB.’
School Board Chair Dionna Carlson noted that the district is “putting time and effort into social-emotional learning” and asked the CAB representatives at the meeting—they included Deak as well as South School Principal Joanne Rocco, NCHS School Resource Officer Geoff Lambert, Saxe Assistant Principal Steven Bedard and Lead Campus Monitor Dave Wannagot—whether those skills are in any way combined with safety and security training.
“As we all look back at some of the most horrific things that have happened, there are social emotional things that are behind most of those, so I would love to hear your thoughts on those,” Carlson said.
Rocco noted that Students Supports Coordinator Susan Bliss also is a member of CAB and said the group has discussed “about when you look at the history of some school shooters and what is missing in their lives and how do we make sure through our School Climate Committee and through the work that we do in our classrooms that we have addressed that.”
“And I think all of the work that we are doing around emotional intelligence this year is a great starting point, even though it’s something that we have always addressed through the years,” Rocco said.
Though the School Climate and School Safety Committees in schools are separate, Rocco said, “We have a lot of the same members, so conversations between the two really mesh pretty well and it’s something that we always consider because prevention is the biggest part of a crisis plan.”