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Bark for Schools and Bark for Families Information

Sweetwater ISD has been utilizing Bark for Schools since January of 2019 as a tool to help ensure we are protecting our students. We have been pleased with the results and believe there is great value in their product and purpose. Keeping students safer on our school-provided devices and accounts is of paramount importance to us here at Sweetwater ISD. In that regard, we would like to make you aware of a recent step that has been taken to monitor school-issued accounts. Starting in October we will enable the Parent portal and Family Alerts. What is Bark, you may be asking? Bark for Schools is a powerful but free monitoring service we are utilizing to help us better protect students both at school and at home.

Providing students access to laptops and email accounts opens up an incredible world of learning opportunities — as well as potential dangers that could impact our students, our staff and the families in our community. Bark helps us monitor the content our students are creating, sharing, and sending through school-issued accounts. This helps us to detect potentially dangerous situations that students may be facing both in and out of school, including:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Threats of violence
  • Predatory advances
  • Sexual content
  • Suicidal ideation 

Bark’s technology is proven. In 2018, Bark detected 1.2 million instances of cyberbullying, 140,000+ communications discussing self-harm or suicidal ideation, nearly 100 student conversations with sexual predators, and 51 potential acts of violence in schools.

As well as alerting staff to potential problems, risks, or imminent dangers, we will be uniting with our students’ families in the coming days, leveraging their help in receiving alerts on their child's online activities. This is crucial to enabling a fast response.

To help your family, Sweetwater ISD has secured a 20% discount on the monthly cost, which is $7.20 per month / $79.20 per year to cover an unlimited number of accounts, devices, and children. The upgrade is available through the Bark for Schools app.

If you would like more information, visit our Bark information page https://www.sweetwaterisd.net/page/bark_information. After you have looked though the documentation please feel free to contact us with any additional questions by emailing barkinfo@sweetwaterisd.net. Alternatively, you can reach the Bark team at any point via the app or directly from our website. Bark support is available every day of the year. In-addition Bark can be reached at help@bark.us.Thank you for helping us to keep our students safe online and in real life.

FAQs: Parent Portal

The Parent Portal was launched as part of Bark's mission to keep kids safe online 24/7. We wanted to make sure that alerts were not missed during times when school administration may not be as available as during school hours, which is why we strongly recommend inviting parents and families in helping schools during these times. 


What is the Parent Portal?

The Bark for Schools Parent Portal is a free and complimentary feature of the Bark for Schools monitoring service. It unites schools with parents/guardians to pick up alerts after hours, during weekends, and over school vacations. Families use the Bark for Parents app to view their alerts.

Why is the Parent Portal important?

The Parent Portal allows schools to enlist the support of parents and guardians to receive alerts about their children after hours and during breaks. As you know, online activity doesn't stop when the bell rings. Administrators can't be available 24/7/365 to respond to severe alerts, which is why we feel the school/family/community partnership is so essential. Enabling the Parent Portal is a positive step toward more comprehensive monitoring to keep students safer online.

Why does Bark believe the Parent Portal is essential?

Bark’s mission is to protect as many children as possible on their devices and accounts. Uniting with your parents greatly reduces the chance that a serious threat could slip through the cracks. 

Is this for every student in my school/district?

Not in every case. Though many schools/districts have enabled the Parent Portal for all of their students and families, some administrators have enabled the system only for children they may be most concerned about or who are considered high risk. Often, these parents are already part of a broader discussion with your extended team.

Are you going to spam/sell to parents?

No. While there is a clear upgrade path to our Bark for Parents product if a parent is concerned enough about their child's online experience, Bark will not spam parents with emails. Parent Portal is here as another free safety net for your school or district. If you are concerned about a student’s behavior on your school-provided accounts, you may offer Bark for Parents as an option to them. Any parent that converts to the full Bark experience will receive a 20% discount.

For more information on Bark for Parents, we have created this helpful video for you.

 

 

What does a parent see in an alert?

Bark alerts let parents know why the online activity was flagged (depression, sexual content, cyberbullying, etc) and include a “snippet,” which is a concise view of why Bark flagged this particular item, along with where it originated (Gmail, Google Drive, etc).

We also include a link to helpful tips on how parents can talk to their child about the alerts. Parents and guardians can only view alerts for their child. We take data security very seriously and want to protect each child’s information. The only time a parent would see another child’s name is if it was included in the message that is flagged, as in “Jessica said…”

Does Bark offer support to Parents?

Absolutely! Parents can reach our team at any point via the app or directly from our website. Bark support is available every day of the year. Alternatively, our team can be reached at help@bark.us.

If parents are separated, can Bark alert both parties?

Yes, each parent will be provided with an account to monitor via the Bark app.

If a parent loses custody or we would proactively like to remove access to alerts for our own reasons, can we do that?

Our team is ready to help with any adjustments an account may require. Please reach out to us and the account will be disconnected.

Bark for Schools: Monitoring of district accounts and devices, alerts and portal monitored by district staff.  Family Alerts and Parent Portal is available for Parents/Guardians to see the same severe alerts we see but to help support our students outside of school hours. 

Bark for Families: Separate product available via a subscription that allows parents to monitor personal devices and add additional personal email, music, and social media accounts.

See more Bark videos on their YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZepYDQBoOjwXlKfkHU_9lA

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