Prevent and Detect Incidents

Prevention and detection of cyber incidents is a whole school effort and should cover a wide range of cyber-incident types such as cheating, hacking, digital harassment, sexting, etc., as well as a variety of health and mental health risks: suicide, eating disorders (anorexia/bulimia), violence, sexual abuse, gang recruitment, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness such as depression and anxiety, dating/domestic violence, bullying, and high risk sexual activity.


Solid prevention is based in clear expectations combined with consistency in response for both students and staff. Successful prevention plans walk students and staff through the problems they are likely to encounter. Expectations and consequences should be communicated clearly and referred to often through training and curricula. All parties must understand in advance what the expectations are, so there are no surprises about what will happen to students or staff who create a problem.


Staff and students can be trained to recognize warning signs for a variety of social and mental health concerns. Digital media provides an ideal setting where students leave breadcrumbs of their well-being--indicators of high risk behaviors (eg, substance abuse, violence, suicide ideation, etc). It also is a venue where harassment often is played out in front of witnesses.

Students must feel connected enough to someone at the school to be willing to report concerns, and schools must have resources gathered and intervention processes in place to be prepared to respond to an incident. Where school climate is a priority and relationships have been nurtured between faculty, staff, and students, schools are in a position to detect and intervene.

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined prevention programs for many problems that schools will want to be aware of: “The goal of any prevention program is simple: Reduce factors that increase risk (risk factors) and increase factors that promote resilience (protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies will promote awareness and encourage a commitment to social change.”

See the following resources for more information on prevention and detection for educators:

  • Keeping Kids Safe from the Wrong Dangers An opinion piece that goes through how parents evaluate and react (or over/under react) to risks. The article includes data from studies, and research from social science.
  • Information Brief: Cyberbulling and School PolicyThis article is an information brief on creating school policy in regard to cyberbullying. It includes legal issues to consider, recommendations for policies and procedures, and a model student "Policy on Cyberbullying."
  • Interdisciplinary Response to Youths Sexting. This article offers recommendations concerning sexting from the Youth Online Safety Working Group (including NCMEC.)
  • For more information regarding prevention and detection, see the Generation Safe Resource Library and search, “prevention” and “detection.”

Prevention and Detection Resources and Links

Warning signs:
Prevention help:

Causes and Risk Factors:
Symptoms and Treatments of eating disorders:

Dating Violence

Sexual abuse

Gang recruitment

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

CDC Principles of Prevention (offers continuing education credits)
CDC Preventing Youth Violence:

Dating Violence
Together for Girls: We Can End Sexual Violence (online booklet)
Understanding Teen Dating Violence:
Preventing Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence: Program Activities Guide:
Understanding Intimate Partner Violence:

National School Climate Center:
BullyBust Prevention: