Cyber Crime At The Middle School

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

When I was in middle school, I was caught red-handed passing a note to a friend. On the note I’d written, I thought the teacher sounded like he had dentures because he kept whistling as he spoke. Not my finest moment.

The teacher read the note aloud and told me he, in fact, did not have dentures and I needed to pay attention.

I mention this because kids haven’t changed. However, their method of delivery has changed. Kids don’t pass notes. They text or SnapChat or use another preferred application. Kids today grew up using the internet.

BLOG POST #138: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving a middle school student.

Easy To Access

The 14-year-old middle school student, in this case, had previously received a three-day suspension for inappropriately accessing the school’s computer system.

Then one day when his regular teacher was out he decided to play a trick on the absent teacher who he found irritating. As other students had also done, he logged into the teacher’s computer using the teacher’s password, his last name. He changed the computer background to two men kissing.

The substitute teacher reported the inappropriate background, and it was learned the graphic had been changed when the teacher was absent.

The student confessed to his crime of playing a prank on his teacher.

Baby Boomers meet Generation Z

Old-school ways handicapped law enforcement and the judicial system in this case because cyber crime laws created in the 1980s when technology took off had not been updated.

Because the computer system the boy logged into held encrypted [state] Comprehensive Assessment Tests the student was arrested and charged with a third degree felony, “Offenses Against a Computer System and Unauthorized Access.”

Hard Line

It was argued the boy didn’t know the standardized tests were accessible and he did not access them. The sheriff’s position centered on the boy could have accessed the tests.

The sheriff held firm and said the case should be a warning to other students. And if there were evidence other kids had logged into the system, they’d face the same consequences.

Was The School Partly To Blame?

As with all juvenile cases, the files are sealed, so we don’t know if there was any time served sentencing. However, it was reported the boy received a 10-day school suspension.

It seems to me the school staff was also behind the times that the password was the teacher’s last name. That’s almost as bad as making “password” your password. If multiple students were logging into the system, then I doubt the absent teacher was the only one with a super easy password.

What do you think about this case? Do you think it’s time to bring cyber crime laws into the twenty-first century? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

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