Hi! Thank you for having me. My name is Jason Veselka. I’m a Safety Specialist here at Lightspeed. I have 25 years of experience in law enforcement. The last several years I‘ve worked as a detective with assignments in the intelligence unit working as a special deputy U.S. Marshal assigned of the U.S. Marshals Task Force, and I worked with the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force. I’ve investigated threats of violence against schools, some of which were traced out of the country. I’m from Texas — I grew up in the Austin area, and I currently live in the Dallas area. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my son, usually near water swimming or fishing. I also enjoy hiking and jogging with my golden retriever and spending time outdoors.
Lightspeed Alert monitors online content for schools, and it looks for signs of individuals in crisis or incidents of violence by just kind of monitoring the students and monitoring the web activity at the schools. Lightspeed benefits schools by providing a team of dedicated specialists to receive and investigate the alerts 24/7.
Some districts will assign that duty as an assignment to teachers or coaches, who are already over-tasked — and not to say that they’re not capable, but they don’t have the training and they have other things on their plate as well. For a Lightspeed Student Safety Specialist, this is our only task. We’re trained, and we go through continuous training, to stay on top of the alerts and know what to look for.
Most of the alerts that we see have been in the self-harm category and that seems to be a trending nationwide. From the data we’re receiving, self-harm appears to be trending to a younger age group. There’s an alarming rise in self-harm among younger female students. It’s not something we want to see increase, and our work as Safety Specialists is helping to prevent these incidents. There was an alert that I recall where a student was talking to another student in a different state. That student was posting pictures online where she was severely cutting herself. The student that I received that alert from, was trying to talk that her into seeking help and to stop harming herself. Although the student hurting herself was not a student at the district we partner with, this was a clear sign of self-harm from a child.
An alert came through for a student who was answering a question in an online document for a project. The question was: “What is something in your life that you need to change your self-talk to, ‘not yet’?” His answer was: “I won’t kill myself yet.” That was alarming and made me take a step back for a moment. I deemed it as an alert that needed intervention and escalated it to the district safety personnel. A couple of days later they reached out, thanked me, and let me know that they were able to get that student the help and resources they needed.
I enjoy knowing that each day’s kind of different—that we make a difference in the lives of students and faculty at schools. I know that our work impacts not only the lives of students, but also the families and the communities that they live in. I believe we are saving and changing lives. It’s a great feeling to be able to intervene and get them the help that they need and to avert an act of violence.