When Lightspeed Safety Specialist Rick Salter received alerts for potential on-site violence and cyberbullying, he sprang into action. We had the opportunity to learn more about Rick’s story and his role as a Safety Specialist.
Hi, Rick. Thank you for making time to meet with us. Introduce yourself, tell us about your background, and what your hobbies are.
Hi! I’m Rick Salter and I currently live in Basildon, which is a town in Essex located in the UK. Before joining Lightspeed Systems I worked as a manager of a document security company. I have a lot of experience dealing with sensitive information and protecting the personal and business data of clients. My hobbies include writing, watching films, TV shows and playing video games with my son.
Can you describe in your own words how Lightspeed Alert™ works to save lives?
Lightspeed Alert is a 24/7/365 tool that monitors a student’s activity regardless of what media format they are using. Lightspeed Alert has an algorithm that picks up different keywords and phrases that are in our database and sends an alert to the human review team and school safety personnel. We then review the alert to determine the severity of the case by conducting a threat assessment.
In our assessment we investigate the search history and look for any red flags or concerning information or behaviour. We will then determine the context, severity and intervene where necessary to protect the students.
Personally, I believe every school in the world should have [Lightspeed] Alert. It really is a beneficial product for student safety and decreases self-harm, suicides, cyberbullying and violent behavior.
If you had to describe the value and benefits of Lightspeed to school leadership, what would you say?
The benefits of an academy having Lightspeed Alert are unmatched. The level of care that goes into monitoring an alert is remarkable because every safety specialist goes through continuous training and has a passion for keeping students safe. The Safety Specialist team maximises the coverage of students we protect because every one of our Safety Specialists is trained to deal with real time alerts and deliver on our promises. We take the pressure off school safety personnel who may not be as experienced or have the time to monitor every alert that gets flagged.
Have there been any instances where you can recall being shocked or surprised because of an alert that came through?
Yes, there have been two that really shocked me. Both alerts came through my first week of being a Safety Specialist. The first one was for cyberbullying. There was a girl making a detailed slideshow presentation explaining to her classmates why a particular student shouldn’t be in her class or even alive. She wrote things like “he is creepy”, “he is such a teacher’s pet’”, “the way he wiggles his pencil just makes me want to kill him.” I was shocked to say the least. I was getting these alerts in real time while she was typing them. I informed the school right away and thankfully the presentation was never seen by the other students.
The other shocking alert was for an 11-year-old googling how to make a bomb. When I investigated the alert, I found that he was talking in a chat room saying things like “I hate my school”, and “I’m going to blow it up”. I knew I had to intervene quickly. I informed school safety personnel, who then spoke to the crisis team and his parents, and thankfully he got the help he needed. This really surprised me because of his age — he was only four years older than my son.
What are the most common types of alerts that you see coming through, and are there any trends in alerts that you see right now?
Unfortunately, the most common types of alerts we are seeing right now are self-harm and suicide. Most of these alerts come from students who are 12-16 years old. Recently though, we’ve seen these alerts coming from even young students — in year one and two. I’ve always known that self-harm and suicide were a global issue, but I was surprised by the actual number of daily alerts getting flagged. It’s critical that schools provide mental health resources and counseling in order to help these students in need. Lightspeed Alert helps schools identify the students who need help.
What do you enjoy most about working at Lightspeed and being a Safety Specialist?
The thing I enjoy most about working at Lightspeed is the dynamics of my role. Every day is different and I’m able to apply the training that I’ve had for each unique case. I know I’m making a difference by helping to save students’ lives.