BELTON, Mo. (AP) _ Officials in a suburban Kansas City school system have started an investigation into bullying emails that are coming through district-issued iPads.
Administrators in the Belton School District suspect somebody has found a way to send the emails and make them appear as if they are being sent from student email accounts, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1HNIrLi) reports. District technology employees think some of the messages are coming from the same phone.
“The person using that phone can access somebody’s email account if they have an email address and password,” said Superintendent Andrew Underwood.
Underwood added that a student was recently suspended for attempting to disable the school district’s online system.
“We caught him as he was trying to do it,” Underwood said.
Belton seventh-grader Kersten Laughlin was among the students receiving one of the bullying messages. The message appeared to have come from the school district email address of a friend, but that friend denied sending it.
“I called my mom and I was crying so hard, I couldn’t believe it,” said Kersten, who attends Belton Middle School/Freshman Center.
Underwood said poor student password security could be contributing to the issue. Belton students in grades seven through 12 began receiving school district iPads more than two years ago. Students use them to receive assignments from teachers through their school district email addresses.
When students received their iPads last fall, they also received generic passwords for them.
“But some students are still using those generic passwords,” Underwood said. “Our middle school principal has directed that all students be sure to have their passwords changed.”
Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, said poor password security among students has led to the same problems elsewhere.
“Every time I have spoken to a youth audience, one of the questions I have asked is, `How many of you know somebody’s password,’ and a majority of hands will go up,” said Hinduja. “I then tell them that whether they do this out of convenience or as an act of bonding between friends, it is a bad idea.”