#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Parents angry after email breach sparks cyber bullying | The Canberra Times

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Parents have questioned the security of ACT public school information technology systems after an email breach led to “distressing” incidents of cyber bullying and harassment and explicit material being sent to thousands of students. Jessica Meyer said her 14-year-old son started receiving unsolicited calls, texts and emails on Friday when his mobile number was sent to thousands of people after email distribution lists were circulated by students. She said the calls ranged from pranks to death threats which left her son upset, scared and worried people would hunt him down in person. “I’m pretty angry that the school network isn’t protected enough,” Mrs Meyer said. “It’s easy enough for a child or a young person to bring down the whole ACT government school database and then be able to email out a number to thousands of people across Canberra.” Mrs Meyer changed her son’s mobile number to stop the harassment. Her 10-year-old daughter was also sent a number of emails containing pornography and links to viruses. ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said the incident began on Friday morning when a student attempted to share their work with their classmates. They inadvertently used an email distribution list code which sent their work to every year 8 student in ACT public schools. Some students figured out how to send emails to other year groups. “A small number of students shared inappropriate material, including pornographic images, using the email distribution lists,” Ms Berry said. The Google platform was shut down on Friday afternoon as the Education Directorate investigated the incident. The directorate expected students to regain access to Google Drive and Google Classroom from Tuesday and have access to emails by the end of the week. READ MORE: ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Kirsty McGovern-Hooley said it was very distressing some students were targeted by their peers in the incident. She welcomed the involvement of the police and the eSafety commissioner. “Students who participated need to understand the consequences of their actions on other students and parents expect appropriate action to be taken,” Ms McGovern-Hooley said. She said parents were questioning how the breach could have happened so easily and some were nervous about IT access at school. Opposition education spokesperson Elizabeth Lee said Canberra’s families had been let down by the serious breach. “Families and teachers are rightly distressed by the explicit and disturbing material that was disseminated and the disruption this has and continues to cause to their education,” she said. “Canberra families are right to demand an apology and answers.” A government spokesperson said support was available for students and their families, including access to a psychologist and wellbeing teams. “The Education Directorate apologises for any trauma caused for students, families and teachers,” the spokesperson said. “The Education Directorate is working across schools to ensure a consistent and proportionate action is being taken with the students responsible and the matter has been referred to ACT Policing for consideration.”



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