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13-Year-Old Suspended For Hacking Commits Suicide

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the tragic-reaction dept.

Education 755

RichM writes: "The Times of Trenton (N.J.) has a story this morning about a gifted local 13-year-old who committed suicide after being suspended for 10 days from school, apparently for hacking into the school's computer system. Accounts differ, but it appears the school emphasized that what the child did was illegal, and he hung himself that afternoon, leaving a note saying he would rather die than go to jail."

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If you can take the heat... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224415)

I don't want to come out sounding cold, but if the kid did break in to the schools computer system, then he deseverd to be suspended. If he killed himself because he didn't want to get in trouble, too bad... He was probably screwed up in the head and would of ended up finding some other reason to kill himself if he wouldn't of been caught

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224416)

The subject line is in Latin, roughly translated it means "after this, therefore because of this". I propose that maybe this unfortunate boy had more on his mind than just his suspension when he chose to take his life. Bullying, no friends, trouble at home, who knows? We cannot simply point an accusing finger at the school system without all the facts...

What actually happened? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224417)

I do not say the following to add pain to his family but I would like to know how the conversation with his dad went between the school and home before his dad went back to work.

I'll bet that if anything he was upset that he had disgraced his family and he probably took some harsh words from his dad a little too seriously.

I don't know much about his culture but I believe that honor is highly valued and that fathers generally hold undisputed authority in the home. I'll bet his dad was overdramatic with his rhetoric and the boy took the ultimate solution.

The opposite thing happened to me. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224418)

My junior high school was just starting to build a computer network when I arrived in Grade 7, when they had about 30 computers. I got quite involved in running the system for the next two years, and eventually did a lot of work setting up the school board's email system (100,000 students).

Near the end of my grade 9 year, I got hauled down to the principal's office for fighting. I got a 3 day home suspension, along with the person I was fighting with, but about noon on the first day, the phone rang and I was told I could come back to school. Turns out someone had gone a little nuts on the server (idiot teachers would never lock it away securely) and didn't know how to fix it (the computer teacher, who was extremely competent, had quit for a private sector job about 4 months before). So I basically was back at school, not because the admin staff had decided the suspension was overly harsh, but because a bunch of teachers needed the computers for stuff their classes were doing.

And the person I was fighting with had to "suffer" through a three day home suspension.

On a somewhat related note, regarding this story: Jon Katz, eat your heart out.

Re:Don't jump to conclusions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224419)

You don't know that he hacked the schools network. And if he did, you don't know that it was illegal.

The article dosen't say what he did, but he still did wrong

The article dosen't say what he did, so we don't know whether an action he may (or may not) have taken was wrong.

"why?"

Why did the principal threaten him with jail time?

Re:Let's not fly off the handle here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224420)

He was told he could go to jail for this. When I was a 13-year-old I was a perfectionist too and I know exactly how horrible this must have felt for him. He took a rash action, but that is not indicative of some serious psychological problem. That is indicative of youth and a culture of administrators who do not show caring but instead feel they have to punish, punish, punish.

Re:The principal has paid his dues (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224421)

he [the principal] is directly responsible for the suicide

Nonsense.

The principal didn't do anything wrong. And I'm sure that if he could have forseen this, he would have done something differently. I imagine this haunts him in ways I can't imagine, but for people to claim he is responsible for this tragedy is ridiculous.

I think what we have here is an overachieving youngster unequipped to deal with failure. By all accounts, he was a bright, intelligent boy with a variety to talents. This was probably the first serious trouble he's ever been in, and it shtattered his fragile self image. That's a pretty serious blow at 13.

I hope the family, and the principal, find peace.

How can the school say they don't know why? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224428)

District Superintendent John Fitzsimons must be the dumbest man alive. From the article; "We don't know why (he committed suicide) and we feel terrible about it," Fitzsimons said. John maybe you need to learn to read and comprehend.

[OFFTOPIC] Re:You can go to jail... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224429)

I would like to point out that convicted felons can indeed restore their entire and full rights as citizens the very day they finish parole. A convicted felon can apply for his or her rights to be returned, the process does not take very long, and very few persons are denied. So you're a convicted felon? Keep your nose clean, be patient, and you can be a citizen again. Look it up in your lawbooks. =)

This doesn't suprise me.. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224431)

Look at how jail is portrayed on TV, its a harsh brutal place where people get raped and beaten up daily. The principal threatened the child with the threat of being sent to jail. I've been talked to by my teachers, basically because i'm doing stuff they just don't understand. Why punish kids because they have a goddamn curiosity? Thats medieval thinking, and this is what happens when you try and confine people to your simple minded ideals. I doubt the kid did anything like changing grades, or malicious. People are naturally curious, but people are trying to curb this by outrageous things like the DMCA, an understanding of computers shouldn't be considered a crime. A kid gets his home busted into and his computer consficated because he wrote a program that circumvents stupid technology. A good kid, with a bright future is cut short because he was interested in how things worked. We look back on people like Galileo with awe, at how he wouldn't be silenced by the simpleminded religous zealots. He died for what he believed for, this kid died because he feared for his life.

Re:10 days? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224432)

> 10 days is a little extreme for that type of violation Depends on what kind of data he gained access to. For all we know he could have: - gained access to everyone's email - read tests - read/changed grades & scores - accessed student records - accessed school employee files - or even _changed_ student/faculty records And if the entire school district was networked, scale up the potential damage and/or invasion of privacy by a few order of magnitudes. For a website full of rabid privacy freaks, I'm suprised people are taking the kid's side. Having said all that, I'm _very_ suprised that someone considered so intelligent committed suicide. Makes me wonder if there wasn't something more going on. *shrug*

This is why we need places like slashdot... (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224433)

Because all the feelings of anger, resentment, hopelessness, isolation, and despair can be erased by one soul offering a few comforting words letting someone know that he is not alone, that other people have been in his position and made it through.

I have been (roughly speaking) in his position, and the one thing that saved me from his fate was someone who reminded me that there were other people like me who could help me through the rough times.

I mean, really. The kid was just as curious as anyone else his age, he went where he didn't belong, and got busted. That happens to a lot of people, I think. But when that kid feels like there's nothing left for him in this world, something is wrong.

suicide (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224434)

This has nothing to do with a jail sentence. Depression [depressed.net] amongst our youth is a very serious problem that is regularly ignored by parents and teachers. Knee-jerk accusations of computer games, music, drugs, and (yes) threatened jail sentences obscure the issue. People do not kill themselves because of an outer influence, they kill themselves because they can't handle the pain inside. We should supporting children, teaching them coping mechanisms, working on fixing the cause rather than blaming the symptoms.

Fun and games, like bullies beating kids up. (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#224435)

I had a friend who came into class one day with some visible bruises about his face arm and shoulder. He told me later that he was taken away to the principal's office where he and some people from Child Protective Services questioned him at length and urged him to "admit" that his parents did this to him, so that could "do something and protect him".

When they finally learned that the injuries were done by a local school bully (there were witnesses)... THE SCHOOL ABANDONED ALL INTEREST IN THE STUDENT'S INJURIES!

Someone explain to be why schools are ready to send armed guards (like Elian Gonzales) to sieze battered kids from abusive parents yet have no problem with kids abusing and beating up other students?

Time for a /. campaign?? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 13 years ago | (#224442)

http://www.ww-p.org/

The superintendant's email address....
wwpsup@pluto.njcc.com

and a list of other email addresses.
http://www.ww-p.org/display.asp?section=centralo ff ice&page=centraloffice/Staff.data&title=Staff

And what's terrible, it's an IIS site (.asp) no wonder it was so easily hacked!)

Lets Pray for Shinjan.

After what they did to Kevin... (1)

mgrennan (2067) | more than 13 years ago | (#224448)

I'm saddened to hear a gifted child would be so theatened by the very people he should be able to trust.

Kids should be guided. Bad acts should be turned to good. They should be told they have committed a crime and they will be going to jail "for years without a trial".

Ok this may not have been what the kid was told bit if he liked hacking he would have known what they did to Kevin M.

Strong examples (make by the goverment) lead to strong actions make by the public. Even kids get the message.

Taking blame (3)

clasher (2351) | more than 13 years ago | (#224449)

Hopefully people will see both sides of this issue; more than one party may be to blame.

It is disturbing that this kid may become viewed as a martyr among certain computer geeks. Here on slashdot it is not uncommon for readers to be all too quick in chastising "the system" for their actions in matters which affect geeks. If he did in fact hack maliciously then I have little sympathy for him receiving a fair punishment.

At the same time the boy may have been treated improperly by the school board. I have been involved in situations involving school administrators acting rash and grossly misunderstanding the situation. If they behaved too harshly then the school should take some blame for this incident.

Perhaps the boy had psychological problems or the school board had it in for him, maybe both. I'm sure there are many side to this issue (like any other) and I just hope people will remember to take everything into account before passing judgement on any one party.

Screwed value system??? (4)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#224485)

One should instead question the screwiness of a value system in which a kid would rather die than be fingerpointed for doing something bad.

--

Re:Violation of Privacy (2)

nebby (11637) | more than 13 years ago | (#224492)

It's not when "someone" hacks into a computer, it's when a kid cracks into a computer. Immaturity leads to curiosity which leads to cracking.

I don't recall seeing people justifying malicious cracks by adults with the intent to deceive or steal. This kid was 13.

Re:suck it up (2)

nebby (11637) | more than 13 years ago | (#224493)

You take take your rules and shove them up your ass if it results in a kid killing himself.

End of story.

The principal has paid his dues (1)

quantax (12175) | more than 13 years ago | (#224496)

Theres one thing people are forgetting here: the principal. If he is in any way human, he probably feels like an utter piece of shit right now, as he is directly responsible for the suicide. In fact, he basically killed him (metaphorically speaking). I bet that right now he is feeling ever so regretful that he ever uttered those fateful words. This will probably serve as a warning to other administrators who threaten such things. Hopefully...

If this were a window... (2)

FallLine (12211) | more than 13 years ago | (#224497)

would you say the same thing about the contractor (or whomever)? They should have known to use unbreakable glass because it is clear that a kid would break it with a brick and commit suicide after he was suspended for it. Perhaps the SCHOOL (not to be confused with system) administrators are to blame for not being reasonable, though there aren't enough details to come to that conclusion. But even if that were the case, it's totally unreasonable to expect them to know what would happen.

Awww shit. (1)

TheCaptain (17554) | more than 13 years ago | (#224518)

Greaaat. Katz is gonna have a field day with this one. I can see the "first in a series" bitchfest from here already.

Contributing factors (2)

Xmarksta (30211) | more than 13 years ago | (#224532)

First of all, my sympathies go out to Shinjan's family, friends, and everyone involved. This is a terrible tragedy.

I am hesitant to assess blame in situations like this. I am sure there will be posts here placing the blame on:
  • the school system for excessive punishment for a pretty minor offense (and a lack of sensitivity -- the principal's comments nonwithstanding)
  • Shinjan's parents for placing excessively high expectations on their son's shoulders,
  • Shinjan himself for making a terribly rash, irreversible, tragic decision,
  • our society for various evils.

Maybe all of the above played a part, who knows. It seems to me that Shinjan became a young kid who lost his sense of perspective about what is important in life. I don't expect 13 year old kids to have much perspective, but I would hope that every child has somebody in their life that would instill in them an *unconditional* sense of self worth.

The last sentence used to sound like pop psychology drivel to me, until a friend ended up in the same situation. Now I feel lucky because I don't take that kind of thing for granted anymore.

Re:You can go to jail... (3)

.pentai. (37595) | more than 13 years ago | (#224560)

That sucks for Schwartz, but this is about a kid in school. It's a bit different. The school would almost certainly not have prosecuted and gotten him in court, and if they did, this kid was what, 13? Now a 13 year old won't go to jail for this. He may be put on probation, but in most cases wouldn't his record be wiped when he turns 18 anyways?

Re:suck it up (4)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 13 years ago | (#224564)

If you're going to break the rules/laws, be willing to suck it up and accept the punishment, and think it through.

You act as if "the rules" are things handed down by God. Rule are just the expressions of people, and yes, rules can be wrong and flawed. Punishments, likewise, can be wrong and flawed. Bad rules should be broken.

What is wrong with these people? (5)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 13 years ago | (#224566)

Fitzsimons said Shinjan wasn't the first student suspended for breaking into the school district's computer system.

At the risk of appearing Troll-like, one has to ask -

Why don't they fix they damn holes before they kill another kid?!?

I mean, seriously. How incompetent are the IT losers working at the school district that they've been hacked several times? Why don't they take a more progressive approach like - gosh, I dunno - making the punishment a 2000 word report on exactly how you broke in and suggestions on how to fix the hole?

This is sad :( (5)

Manaz (46799) | more than 13 years ago | (#224588)

Firstly, condolences to this child's family, friends, teachers and schoolmates - this would be hard to deal with, no matter what relationship you had with this boy.

I can see the school getting the blame from some people for this - which is a bit unfair. What this kid did do was evidently illegal - stressing the point I would say was done more to emphasise that he shouldn't do similar things again, than to push him into the kind of depression that leads to suicide. Being so smart as to know what he was doing, one must wonder how he didn't already know it was illegal, or at least morally and ethically wrong, and really, being 13 is no excuse - if he's smart enough to hack into the school district's systems, then he should know the ramifications of being caught, and the likelyhood of it happening.

It does appear that the suspension was the limit of the punishment that the school intended on carrying out on the boy - the real trajedy here (apart from the death) is that the boy appears not to have been clear on this himself. It is important, *especially* so with children, to be very clear when indicating the future direction of actions to be taken in response to someone's actions - the boy, from his suicide note, felt that he was going to be sent to prison - when the worst he appeared to be destined for was a negative mark on his school record - this obviously wasn't made clear to him, and his suicide was the result.

A very sad day when someone, gifted as this boy was or not, commits suicide, especially when it's at least partially due to a lack of understanding about the situation.

Don't jump to conclusions (2)

CuriousGeorge113 (47122) | more than 13 years ago | (#224589)

I am betting that there are going to be a plethora of posts in here blaming the school districts for what they did.

The point is, he hacked the schools network (illegal). The article dosen't say what he did, but he still did wrong, and the district was justified in punishing him. No one had any idea that such a drastic reaction would ensue, but it did.

All we can really do is pray for the family and his classmates, who right now have nothing more to say than "why?"

~~Dan

10 days? (3)

pirodude (54707) | more than 13 years ago | (#224600)

10 days is a little extreme for that type of violation. It's a max of 5 days in our school district and you have to do something seriously bad to come close to that. IE. threaten other students, offer "plans" of the school (like where good places to plant bombs would be). A kid was writing virii in compsci class and I think all he got was a 3 day.

NJ policy: gifted == 'special needs' (5)

kriegsman (55737) | more than 13 years ago | (#224603)

I believe that the State of New Jersey mandates that the "bottom 2%" of public school students, AND the "top 2%" of public school students are ALL to be given Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and that they all be considered 'special needs students'. (When I was in the NJ public schools, they gave me an IEP and a variety of 'special needs' treatment, but they never told me which group I was in.) The New Jersey state policy is trying to say that extremely gifted kids are as likely to need special help getting through school as extremely 'slow' kids, and I happen to strongly agree.

Aside: Way back when, my high school had the highest aggregate SAT scores for any public school in NJ, to a large degree because it was in Murray Hill, NJ, home of AT&T Bell Labs (now Lucent). About half of the kids in town were raised by parents who were professional scientists and engineers.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, our little town of 13,000 also had the highest teen suicide rate in the nation. For a couple of years, the valedictorian of the graduating high school class never actually made it to graduation.

A 13-year-old is still just 13, no matter how good he is with computers; the school should have treated him as a 'special needs' student who had done something wrong, not as an independent and emotionally mature adult, or as a criminal.

-Mark, hoping the next kid makes it through OK

Re:Violation of Privacy (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 13 years ago | (#224618)

What a load of bullshit. If you believe that crap, you obviously understand NOTHING of the Hacker Ethic. There is a world of difference between a curious 13 year old hacker and an evil corporation.

Who's privacy do you think this kid violated, exactly? And how does this have anything to do with cookies or GUID's?

Re:10 days? (5)

THB (61664) | more than 13 years ago | (#224622)

Well if it was a major break in, which is criminal, then 10 days is justified. You have to understand that this is the real world, and things like this are taken seriously.

It might be easy to blame the suspension, but the kid almost certainly had emotional problems, and the suspension is not to blame at all.

this should not even be on slashdot, it is very sad, but nothing to do with technology, and it happens every day.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

yesthatguy (69509) | more than 13 years ago | (#224636)

The IT person in our (public) school district, like most administrators, makes a rather hefty sum of money. Administration salaries are a significant step up from teacher salaries, because bureaucracy is apparently worth a lot of money. However, I don't know how competent this guy is, because the only interaction I've had with him is when he disbanded the student-run tech club that had been maintaining the High School server and web page. (No, we weren't doing his job for him...he's more district-wide, arranging for LANs/WANs/net access and establishing technology policies.) Anyway, it seems he does his job fairly well, even if he is an ass.

Oh please. (2)

dimator (71399) | more than 13 years ago | (#224643)

Ya, let's all spend millions of dollars psychologically evaluating every kid who does anything wrong before punishing him, for fear that he might snap and do something crazy like kill himself.

Not to take away from the tragedy, but didn't his parent's notice that the kid was disturbed, after he was sitting home, expelled from school?

I really don't understand the intent of posting this article on slashdot. How does it apply to anything? Because he was a hacker?? You think maybe something similar has happend in the past, for a different crime?

The poor kid was disturbed and unstable, so he did something silly. Not the fault of anyone, because it could not have been predicted.


--

Death of the innocent. (4)

Cyborgdux (72036) | more than 13 years ago | (#224647)

30,575 dead.
Shinjan one of them. Tied a rope from his head.
Genius. Computers. Genius Programming. Creative outlets, nothing but another challenge.
These are the words that you constantly shun.
Because you are a school, a euphemism for prison.
The boy was gifted, the boy challenged himself, and completed his goal.
You punished him, rapped him, and then sent him home.
His life had meaning, a future, and pride.
From his family, friends, and the world death is now were he hides.
And you revert the blame?
You say its not your fault?
You wash your hands of the blood, while the public protests and shouts?
Zero-tolerance for hacking?
What about zero-tolerance for ignorance?
What about zero-tolerance for the death of the innocent?
HE IS DEAD.
IT IS YOUR FAULT.
But you cant even comprehend what I speak about.
You should have praised him, congratulated him, and patted him on the back.
And yet shinjan has died. Just for knowing how to hack.

Children must push their limits.
Smart people want to challenge themselves.
Schools: ENCOURAGE THE PASSION OF COMPUTERS.

Punishment fit the crime? (5)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 13 years ago | (#224674)

"He said if (Shinjan) was an adult, hacking into the computer system could be a crime."

I found that line pretty disturbing. Just about anything a kid that age does in middle school is a crime when done by an adult. Bullying in middle school is ignored, but if an adult had done the same actions it would translate to a mugging or assault. But schools typically look the other way regarding this kind of terrorizing. So suspending the kid for 10 days just because 'it would have been a crime if he were an adult' seems a bit extreme.

I suspect it had more to do with the 'loner hacking on a computer' scare that's going around these days. It seems like perhaps the punishment didn't fit the crime. Expecially because the youth was so scared that he killed himself afterwards.

My sympathies to his family and friends.


Freaky (1)

BarakMich (90556) | more than 13 years ago | (#224677)

And to think I've been hacking my school's system..... Disturbing.

Re:10 days? (1)

MicroBerto (91055) | more than 13 years ago | (#224679)

you're right. And 10 days+jailtime is a very good reason to commit suicide too.

Shit, there's people in this world that barely EAT for 10 days! They're not quitting!

Mike Roberto
- GAIM: MicroBerto

Re:suck it up (1)

MicroBerto (91055) | more than 13 years ago | (#224680)

you're right. "no cracking" is a bad rule. How dare me. psh!

Mike Roberto
- GAIM: MicroBerto

suck it up (3)

MicroBerto (91055) | more than 13 years ago | (#224681)

I'd like to say that I feel bad and all, but I just don't. The kid was obviously smart enough to know that he was breaking the rules. Those that break the rules do it with the knowledge that they MIGHT get caught. Sure, the rules might have been too strict, but they're there for a reason.

If you're going to break the rules/laws, be willing to suck it up and accept the punishment, and think it through.

Don't accept any sympathy from me... take responsibility for your actions.

Mike Roberto
- GAIM: MicroBerto

Re:The principal has paid his dues (1)

jmp100 (91421) | more than 13 years ago | (#224682)

No, he is not directly responsible. The idea that he is even indirectly responsible is shaky at best. It is easy for a teenager to lose control of emotions, and many of them cope with this kind of thing by killing themselves.

heh, who hasnt hacked their schools computers? (2)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 13 years ago | (#224706)

Back in HS we had Macs that had some sort of program(I forget the name) that was supposed to prevent you from moving or accessing certain files on the computer, as well as determining where you could save files. Unfortunately for them, they had installed a microsoft product, office, on all the schools computers. Office at this time had a "find file" function that also included a "move file" command, and it worked outside of the operating system. By moving certain preference files you could basically own any box in the school. I always made sure to return the boxes to their original state before i left the lab. Much to my surprise I was called down to the lab one day to tell the guy who ran the lab what id done. Apparantly somone else had seen what id done and copied it, but hadnt covered his tracks as well as I did. Well needless to say I was a bit freaked out on the walk to the computer lab, but the guy was pretty savvy and cool about it, and he just asked what I did and plugged the hole. In retrospect, I could have been in serious trouble, but with the right people, these situations dont have to happen.

Hes not the only one (5)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 13 years ago | (#224707)

I had a good friend who was a quintessential hacker, I remember him once bringing a JAVA book on a boy scout camping trip, and reading the whole thing as we were canoeing down a river. He looked alot like "Screech" from saved by the bell, and was teased mercilessly in jr high and high school. He tended to buck the system rather than fit into it, and as a result his parents sent him to a reform school, where he later committed suicide. He was truly a gifted person, he wroote music, won piano competitions, could program a computer pretty well, and was a fun guy to know. His Dad and the society of bullying in school drove him to suicide.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (4)

nido (102070) | more than 13 years ago | (#224713)

I mean, seriously. How incompetent are the IT losers working at the school district that they've been hacked several times?

I don't mean to offend anyone when I say this, but how many competent IT people are going to be working for a public school salary?

---

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 13 years ago | (#224714)

Kill a kid?

Fixing security holes is a good idea, but it's not like they were running life support for the students or something. You make it sound like an act of negligence!

Re:This is sad :( (3)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 13 years ago | (#224716)

... being 13 is no excuse - if he's smart enough to hack into the school district's systems, then he should know the ramifications of being caught, and the likelyhood of it happening.

I don't think that's true. "hacking" computers doesn't seem very immoral or illegal. When you're sitting in front of the screen, especially at 13, it's just like a video game.

Why does this happen (1)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 13 years ago | (#224743)

When I was in HS I had a good teacher, that would let me hack away, I still remmeber him, to bad he has passed on (the only teachers funeral that could be held on saterday and have both alumni and current studens attend)

I have so cool storys about him, when I was in 11 greade I and 2 of my friends had this thorey that he has a X-hacker (we belived he had missel codes at home, he refused to conferm or denie it)

Well I guess not all schools can have a mitch.

Bigger problems than that (2)

Kris Magnusson (115926) | more than 13 years ago | (#224745)

"My life is meaningless now," said Jayanta Majumder, Shinjan's father. "I worked so hard to bring up good children in a good school district."

This guy's son died and all he can think of which school district his son attended? No wonder getting caught hacking seems so terrible to this kid--dying may have seem better than getting in trouble with his dad.

Re:Let's not fly off the handle here (5)

Avenging Sloth 337 (117897) | more than 13 years ago | (#224752)

I'd have to disagree here. If he were an adult, you would certainly have a valid point, but 13 year old kids do not necessarily think like adults. They tend to make rash decisions without fully comprehending all of the possible ramifications. In this case, I believe that he may indeed have been an otherwise 'normal' well adjusted teen who was simply overwhelmed by the apparent possibility of incarceration. Of course, it's also possible that he was on the brink of disaster, but definitely far from a certainty. I guess what I'm saying is that, by adult standards, nearly all 13 year olds have some psychological problems. We really shouldn't lose sight of what a volatile time it is in a person's life.

How...? (2)

Linguica (144978) | more than 13 years ago | (#224817)

I recently graduated from the school district in San Diego, CA made infamous a few months ago when there were two school shootings (Santana and West Hills) within a very short timespan.

At the high school I attended, the string of inexplicable student behavior has been continued with half a dozen suicides or suicide attempts, some involving entire groups of friends.

My mother is in a position to be privy to this sort of information, and when she told me about the string of suicides at my old school, I was surprised as I hadn't heard anything about it. She told me that while she was in a position privy to such information, teen suicide was considered a provate issue -- and the press did not ever act on the information, out of respect for the families of the deceased.

Reading that this student was only 13, it makes me wonder why the press would run a story on his suicide, especially when I personally know of several such cases, none of which were ever mentioned in the press.

Re:This doesn't suprise me.. (4)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 13 years ago | (#224823)

I think the real thing this shows is how much non-understanding there is of geek mentality. If this kid was a destructive little brat, then he would've been used to such threats. The fact that he committed suicide from one suspension and one threat means that this kid was really unused to that sort of punishment. To me, that means he was good enough not to get caught, never had experience with a strong disciplinary force before, or had never really done anything to hurt anyone. I think the first two aren't likely, 'cause the kid's not old enough to be that clever, but old enough to have had to deal with authority....

Young geeks are generally good kids I've seen.... they just like to tinker... and all this fud about evil little 15 year old haxxor's has got people treating them like dangerous criminals. I think that the people who adminstered the discipline thought they were dealing with a maniacal little genious, not some frightened little boy who just wanted to see how well protected the schools computers were, probably so that he could play video games or waste time on them.

I keep thinking about my school childhood at that age, 6 years ago, where getting the shit beaten out of me got the bullies' a 3 day suspension at the very most. Nice to know that the repeated mashing of my face was worth less then some software.

Re:Shinjan wasn't the first student suspended (1)

foo22 (154205) | more than 13 years ago | (#224825)

There were three before him, two were caught, I was one. Believe me, when I was suspended they were _very_ nice to me. They said "He has shown that he is very bright in this area, but as a policy we must suspend kids for 10 days." One of the things that I feel that they can still improve is to offer more options to kids. There are no ways for a gifted student to use computers in a constructive way in this school besides word processing.

When I was suspended they asked why. I said because there was nothing else for me to do. I still believe this. If I had something more constructive to do I woul not have gotten in trouble (I now administrate 3 linux boxes and have written much code for Everydns.net [everydns.net] ).

With similar options open to me last year I would not have a suspension on my permenent record.

Apparently the school has not offered more options for students who can do more than use powerpoint and word.

Re:10 days? (2)

foo22 (154205) | more than 13 years ago | (#224827)

10 days is the highest punishment you can get short of being expelled. The district (West Windsor Plainsboro) is anal about this stuff and always over reacts. When I got into their systems last year (I am a student) I got 6 days but that was only because they found out with 6 days left of school.

I live in this district, I did the same thing... (5)

foo22 (154205) | more than 13 years ago | (#224829)

I live in this school district. I was suspended last year for a similar attack (I got Admin access but I didn't do anything with it, then I moved onto running linux and OBSD and found myself here). I was also threatened with jail time. It was a very empty threat.

The district web site [ww-p.org] has a little blurb about it which I think is very out of place.

I have heard various things about what he did. From what I can piece together: He was getting Cs and Ds. He cracked into the school grade system (called SASI), changed his grades, and changed some of his friends grades. He may have sold access.

The main other thing that I have learned was that the principal of the school was really shaken and broke down in front of the school.

If anyone wants any questions anwsers reply and I will do my best.

Re:I live in this district, I did the same thing.. (5)

foo22 (154205) | more than 13 years ago | (#224830)

In a whole school assembly he began to talk about what happened and how the students should respond, what they should do if they see this happening to anyone else...

At some point he just could take anymore and just broke down. For a principal in our district he is rather young and he didn't know what to do.

The entire administration believes that they had nothing to do with this. He showed his head because he believe that he was 100% right in doing what he did. Apparently his conscience got the best of him.

Not that I believe that they did do that much wrong, but anytime a child resorts to killing himself, something went wrong.

Re:Umm.... (3)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 13 years ago | (#224840)

I think a key point here is he was 13. It's an age where you just aren't a fully reasonable adult.

Almost modded this up, but I decided I'd reply to it instead.

13-year-olds ARE NOT ADULTS. As tang has said here, you just aren't fully reasonable. Not to mention that you can't drive, you can't vote, and you can't do 34092 other things that "adults" can do.

So why the fsck does our society persist in trying people as young as 13 as adults? I certainly don't condone what some of them have done, but this is setting a ridiculous double standard. Are they adults or not?

---
Check in...(OK!) Check out...(OK!)

Re:There has to be another way... (1)

Tabercil (158653) | more than 13 years ago | (#224845)

Ah... but things like counselling and adult faculty supervision requires (horror of horrors) resources, people with the time and the training to do such a thing. Yes, I know there are things such as guidance counsellors but would they be able to properly handle this kid in an age where most governments seem to feel compelled to cut back the funding in our school systems for the sake of providing a tax cut to Joe Average?? Please, someone prove me wrong on this.

Violation of Privacy (2)

tyrann98 (161653) | more than 13 years ago | (#224849)

I've already seen several posts from people that this is just a case of curiosity and that the suspension was too severe. However, privacy is privacy. Many Slashdotters complain load and clear that they hate it when companies invade their privacy by sending spam, placing cookies on their computer and tracking users over the Internet (e.g. GUId). Yet, when someone hacks into a computer and looks aroung, many are willing to give all kinds of leeway and say that he's just curious and he really didn't do any harm. If privacy is so important to you (like it is to me), then any kind of hacking for curiosity sake is a violation of privacy. It does not matter if it is a poor user on the Internet, a school or a faceless big, bad corporation.

So "they" killed him? (3)

OOG_THE_CAVEMAN (165540) | more than 13 years ago | (#224854)

Congrats, good troll. (Heh I'm starting to sound like those arrogant "trollbusting" Slashbots).

You know, I thought the headline said "13 Year-Old... Commits Suicide." That would mean he killed himself... he died by his own hand... he made the conscious decision to end his life. Period. Did any of the school administrators physically commit the act of murder? No.

And who was to blame for the act of hacking? Perhaps the actual person (the 13 year old) who commited the act of breaking into security holes? I'd love to know how the admins are directly to blame for this. Maybe they might be dumbasses for not being aware of the holes, but that doesn't make them directly responsible. If a burglar breaks into your house, is it your fault for not having a foolproof million dollar security system with iron bars, laser motion sensors, high tech alarms, and hired armed guards? Nope, the burglar is charged with the crime of breaking and entering.

Sorry, but as fun as it is to use a tragic death to lash out at things we don't like, there's something called reason. The kid did a dumb thing by hacking the school's computers, and when he found himself about to be punished for his misdeeds (maybe the punishment seems a little harsh, but that's another issue) he wasn't stable enough to handle it and made to decision to kill himself. It's sad enough that the kid killed himself without a bunch of dumb gawkers sitting around trying to make him a martyr.

Re:Hes not the only one (2)

electricmonk (169355) | more than 13 years ago | (#224862)

I remember him once bringing a JAVA book on a boy scout camping trip, and reading the whole thing as we were canoeing down a river.

God, that's so eerie, that sounds a lot like me. I remember the times this year when I was with my rowing team at an out-of-town race, and there was always a ton of time to kill. Well, I decided to bring along my friends Applied Cryptography and Building Linux and OpenBSD Firewalls. People would take one look at Applied Cryptography, ask what I was reading, give some kind of expression of incomprehension, and ask what class I was reading that for. They never believed me when I said I was reading it for my own enrichment.


--

Shirking Responsibility (1)

Medgur (172679) | more than 13 years ago | (#224865)

After reading through this sparse article and pondering over the provided quotes, I can only say that it seems very likely the school's administration was totally, and utterly wrong in their preceeding and post actions.

To begin with, it seems to me, due to the hesitation of the administration to reveal its nature, the "hack" incurred could not have been a very severe one. I don't see how it could have been necessary to suspend Shinjan for such a bredth of time, seeing as how the expected suspension for physical assault tends to be a week or two. Furthermore, Shinjan was 13 years old, and it looks as though he put himself under a lot of stress and self scrutiny in order to succeed. This is not abnormal, and it is something administrators should be able to recognize easily from student records and an indepth character assessment. Couple the overzealous punishment, heavy personal stress, and a modern society where suicide isn't quite as shunned and feared as it was 50 (or even 25) years ago, and you've got a recipe for disaster, not to mention the veiled threat of (to Shinjan at least) of imprisonment. What aspiring student can shrug off such a conviction as a criminal record?

Obviously, we can't expect the administrators to so easily spot these problems within their students when schools can house 1500 or more. But perhaps those responsible will finally begin to understand that retribution isn't an effective form of punishment, and as a result overzealous sentencing will be replaced with a greater emphasis on education about the rights of others and a person's responsibilities not to infringe apon them.

I think I'll stop now before this turns into a rant.
-Medgur

Re:Similar thing happened to me. (1)

natenate (172771) | more than 13 years ago | (#224866)

The school administrators that deal with disciplinary problems deal with guns, drugs, and lewd conduct all day. They treat the computer people, generally meeker and milder and more intelligent, the same as everyone else.

I can see the School Handbook now:

----
Should any student break the law and or a school rule they will be administered an IQ test, the result of which will then be used to determine their punishment:

Above 160: Immediate dropping of any punishment.
Above 140: Warning.
Above 120: 1 detention.
Above 100: 1-day suspension.
Below 70: Death by lethal injection.
----

This is the fundamental problem: children with a high propensity for computer use aren't your regular disciplinary problem kids. We're usually over active and very curious.

Please. Here's what's wrong with your argument in a nutshell:

- there's now such animal as a ``regular disciplinary problem."
- rules and laws (should) apply to everyone, regardless of intelligence, likability, economic status, etc.

Insufficent Information (2)

Halo- (175936) | more than 13 years ago | (#224870)

Of course, I feel sympathy for the family of the young man, but I don't think enough information is provided in the article for the reader to draw any meaningful conclusions. Perhaps the school administrators were overly harsh, perhaps the young man was worried about reprecussions from his family, perhaps he was troubled by something completely unrelated.

I don't want to see this young man's actions reduced to a response to a single incident. The life of any 13 year old is fraught with many events which are so seemingly huge at the time. Try to remember how complex life is for a young teen, especially a bright one. A single article is not enough for any of us to gain signifigant insight into his motivations.

You can go to jail... (3)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 13 years ago | (#224872)

Randal Schwartz (co-author of Programming Perl) did just this thing and was taken to court and Convicted of three felony counts, with (deferred) jail time. Read all about it at

http://www.lightlink.com/spacenka/fors/

The good news is he likely won't serve any time.

The bad news is quite bad though. As a felon he is legally barred from many rights full citizens (which he NO LONGER IS in the eyes of the law) have.

It is illegal for him to own a firearm ever again everywhere, (in some states, not his state of Oregon) to ever vote again, and of special interest to people in the I.T. field:

It is illegal for him to work in certain technical jobs ever again. Such as working for a certification authority in at least one State.

Also, a lot of people are under the impression that all felons are intrinsically untrustworthy individuals.

The above still applies even if the persons motives were pure.

P.S. Randal Schwartz would likely have not been convicted if he were in Nevada. The laws here provide for implied authorization of an employee to access employer's systems unless their is "clear and convincing" evidence to the contrary. He still could've been fired though (Nevada is an at will state).

Let's not fly off the handle here (3)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 13 years ago | (#224888)

This event might have been the catalyst, but the kid clearly had some serious psychological problems. He didn't commit suicide because of this arrest, any more than the proverbial straw is the cause of the camel's back breaking.


--

Re:Umm.... (2)

tang (179356) | more than 13 years ago | (#224889)

I think a key point here is he was 13. It's an age where you just aren't a fully reasonable adult. I'm probably going to get flamed for that, but it's true. Getting busted for something where you are threatened with jail, ecspecially when you have a bright future ahead of you, is probably pretty crippling. I'm not saying he shouldn't have been punished. Children need to learn the boundaries and what happens when you cross them.
It's sad that someone with as much talent as he seemed to have threw his life away.

Clueless (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#224892)

But district Superintendent John Fitzsimons said school officials followed disciplinary policies in this case, and although teachers and administrators are grieving the loss, they aren't responsible. "When one seeks answers when none exist, it's understandable to extend blame," Fitzsimons said. "But in my judgment, due process was exercised and the actions of the administration were justified."

All this says is that they are clueless, and they explain it away as saying there is no answer.

And their standard answer is punishment by suspension. Punishment by itself is NOT educational. It is the theory that Pain is theraputic to Learning. Which is how some people train dogs. By Fear, Pain, and Punishment

Now the kid needed to be taught some responsibility. Obviously the school district is not qualified to teach this to those kids.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

Re:The principal has paid his dues (1)

theBunkinator (204351) | more than 13 years ago | (#224931)

Now wait a second here: What is so cruel and unusual about telling this kid the truth? If you are an adult, you will go to jail if caught for illegal hacking. That's not necessarily a gruesome threat, but a very valid wake up call. If the system he hacked had been a military site, he would have gotten into a lot of trouble even as a minor.
So telling him that, as an adult, he could go to jail, is not only correct but - if phrased correctly - a very important reality check that this playful hacking is a serious issue.

Anyone wondering ... (1)

theBunkinator (204351) | more than 13 years ago | (#224932)

why a 13-year-old
1. knows how to do
and
2. is successful
at suicide?

With so many attempted suicides that fail because either the about-to-go-bye-bye reconsiders or messes up (rope too long, etc.), what state of mind do you have to be in to so quickly plan, prepare, and execute a "successful" hanging?

Teachers & Admin need to be educated. (3)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 13 years ago | (#224946)

Teachers & Admin need to be educated about what actually constitutes hacking and cracking.

During my time in school (a good 12 years ago) while I was 14 years old I plonked a few REM statements into a BASIC program that was stored on the school network, Basically leaving my tag there. Of course I was found out and was threatend and blamed for the effected codes malfunction, however this code was written by a student with no computer skills and was taught by *teacher* with no computer skills. The changed code had no structure to it and did not work in anyway whatsoever, it was the equivalent of my attempts to speak German (I knew about 8 phrases) I was threatened with criminal damage and was from that day blamed or held in contempt for anything that happened in the computer labs, even the insertion of a chocolate bar into a disk drive!

The educators need to be educated on what is really an offence, not the FUD that is spread by MS, but the real deal.

My heart goes out to the family and friends involved.

Similar thing happened to me. (5)

Eharley (214725) | more than 13 years ago | (#224948)

About 1 month before 8th grad ended for me in 1996, I was called into the vice-principal's office for a talk. I was being accused of stealing property from the library, violating the grading system, and crashing 3 school email networks.
In reality, what I had done was sent a really really large email (~50MB) through the system. Because everything was going haywire, they expected the worst.
My parents were called at work and told that I had broken some "serious school rules." There was no due process. There was no search for understanding. There was no compassion. I was suspended in school for 5 days. I had to sit in a sterile classroom and read/copy from books onto paper. I couldn't interact with any of my peers as they walked past the classroom. I felt like I was going to die.
The school administrators that deal with disciplinary problems deal with guns, drugs, and lewd conduct all day. They treat the computer people, generally meeker and milder and more intelligent, the same as everyone else.
This is the fundamental problem: children with a high propensity for computer use aren't your regular disciplinary problem kids. We're usually over active and very curious.
This is a very hard thing to get a grip on. But the question remains, how are schools supposed to deal with computer kids? Mere understanding doesn't do the trick. "Refocusing creative energy" sounds like an administrative cop-out.
Currently, I'm attending a school with an honor code. The administration believes students when they say something. However, I don't believe this would work in middle school. What is the solution?

Depressing (5)

s1r_m1xalot (218277) | more than 13 years ago | (#224952)

No flame here. No throwing the blame on society. No repetetious praising of how talented the kid was, how much potential he had. Just a virtual moment of silence for a poor kid.




May this never happen again.

Re:Similar thing happened to me. (2)

spongebob (227503) | more than 13 years ago | (#224976)

All the effort spent on development of the next big thing. All the time we spend trying to make something profitable and get cushy offices and drive the fancy cars. For all the venture capital and stock options in Silicon Valley, we need to see just one thing: That generation behind us need our help. I for one will use this tragedy to make a change for the better. I will teach. I will try to educate those in my public school district about the reality of the impact of hacking. I am not suggesting blame towatds anyone. I do know however, that I was once a kid like that, although I don't quite match up to what I read of him. I was depressed. I was alone. I was a computer geek. I could have benefited greatly if someone had taken the time to encourage me and console me that being different was okay. I didn't need my lame counselor, I needed someone who was like me. Who cared about the things I did.Someone who understood at least as much as I did about programming and computing. I didn't have anyone like that, but maybe I can help someone who was once like me. I don't want to be a hero, I just want to help.

Policy (2)

nowt (230214) | more than 13 years ago | (#224981)

But district Superintendent John Fitzsimons said school officials followed disciplinary policies in this case, and although teachers and administrators are grieving the loss, they aren't responsible.

It's all horribly sad. And a grotesque illustration why 'leaders' should be capable mentors and not be ruled by policies. This brilliant policy, blindy applied to this child, was clearly inappropriate.
I hope this unconscionable act haunts these 'officials'.. it should.

-Nowt

The distric webpage blurb (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 13 years ago | (#224983)

is here [ww-p.org] .

Warning signs of potential self-violence include:

Previous suicide attempts
Significant alcohol or drug use
Threatening or communicating thoughts of suicide, death, dying or the afterlife
Sudden increase in moodiness, withdrawal, or isolation
Major change in eating or sleeping habits
Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
Poor control over behavior
Impulsive, aggressive behavior
Drop in quality of school performance or interest
Lack of interest in usual activity
Getting into trouble with authority figures
Perfectionism
Giving away important possessions
Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye
A lot of these items look like normal teenage behavior to me... testing the bounds of the authority around them... teenage moods.... Even the Bible club should be monitored for their own good... Shit, I better remember never to say goodbye again, I might end up missing valuable classtime to talk with a counsoler about where my life is headed.

Of course, the quote does look a little absurd when taken from an objective perspective. If a paranoid list on a school district's website is what it takes for parent's to get involved, more power to them.

Missed Opportunities (1)

necrognome (236545) | more than 13 years ago | (#224994)

Perhaps he should have harassed geeks while being a stud on the varsity football team. These actions in combination never merit a suspension, much less a reason for killing oneself...

my condolences (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 13 years ago | (#225013)

I extend my condolonces to the victims friends, family, and assiociates.

Why don't the parents knmow exactly what he did? I've been suspended before (not for ahcking) but its standard to tell teh parents and all involved parties exactly what happened and what damages were incurred, if any. From the tone of the article it sounds like Shinjan was threatend with jail. I remeber in junior high, what were really incidents that wouldnt matter in a year or two seemed like major events. That was just getting picked on and dating. Waht would the effects of beign threatened with jail time do to someone in
junior high? Especially a young adult who does several things that most adults cant do one of.

Blame doesn't need to be pointed here. Suing the schools would only put a huge hole in the budget for years affecting the education of thousands of children. Especially the musical and gifted children like Shinjan.

Something catch my eyes (3)

jsse (254124) | more than 13 years ago | (#225018)

He earned a black belt in tae kwon do with less than four years of training.

No one can get a recognized blackbelt in Taekwondo below 18, unless it's just a pre-approved(Read: pseudo) blackbelt given by his trainer for his good work. But it's not a real blackbelt.

Why should they created some artificial award for kids? Simple, it's to give them a sense of sucess and achievement. However over-appraised kid might not be able to withstand the pressure of one failure(well, adults have that problem too). I can tell from what his father said that this kid has received a lot of sucess and pressure comes with them.

"We are so sorry..." (2)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#225022)

But district Superintendent John Fitzsimons said school officials followed disciplinary policies in this case, and although teachers and administrators are grieving the loss, they aren't responsible

...but not sorry enough to admit to our responsibility and try to change things.

Homeschooling. It's the only answer.

Thank Eris I prudently decided not to have kids myself. I thought my childhood was a living hell, but I had no idea. Sheesh.

Re:Let's not fly off the handle here (2)

servasius_jr (258414) | more than 13 years ago | (#225023)

the kid clearly had some serious psychological problems

Are thirteen year old kids usually noted for being emotionally stable? Isn't this something an educator should consider before making threats?

Re:The principal has paid his dues (1)

eXtro (258933) | more than 13 years ago | (#225028)

he probably feels like an utter piece of shit right now, as he is directly responsible for the suicide. In fact, he basically killed him (metaphorically speaking).
Bullshit. He probably feels bad, but its not his fault. The kid did something stupid, he got caught, he was punished and then he comitted the ultimate act of stupidity.

Suppose he wasn't caught or wasn't punished. In a couple of years he'd ask some girl out and possibly be rejected. I suppose it'd be the girls fault that the kid killed himself then?

Re:suck it up (1)

slaytanic killer (264559) | more than 13 years ago | (#225035)

Ironic. As I was reading this, I noted a fortune at the bottom from Thomas Jefferson, pointing out that a bit of rebellion is a good thing now & then.

All things considered though, I'd take the boy to live over you anyday. Same goes for getting ass-hammered in jail. And for all I know, you probably feel the same way.

Re:There has to be another way... (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 13 years ago | (#225039)

Why suspend them for a long period of time and threaten them with jail when they can teach them right from wrong like any _school_ should do?

It is not the job of the schools to teach morality. It is the job of the schools to provide an *academic* education. If effectively providing this education to students means that one student must be (temporarily) removed from school, then so be it.

Unfortunately, in this case, the removal was not so temporary. IMO, this is not so much an issue of a troubled school district as it is an issue of a troubled little boy. I do agree with the previous poster that the child needed counseling... I just (strongly) disagree about who should be responsible for it.
____

Re:This doesn't suprise me.. (1)

Kaemaril The Magus (307598) | more than 13 years ago | (#225058)

One in four women is a rape survivor

An interesting statistic. I was under the impression it had been thoroughly debunked....

Suck deal... (5)

xkenny13 (309849) | more than 13 years ago | (#225063)


Well, it's been a long time since I've been in school, so I can't say what's a "reasonable" policy for computer hacking these days.

I did break into the school computer when I was in high school ... they caught me about six weeks till the end of the semester. My "punishment" was getting kicked out of my computer class, which ultimately meant being short credits for completion. My alternative was to pay for access to a computer at the local community college and finish my assignments there, which I did.

At the same time, I can tell you I felt really, really empty inside. If there was *one* thing I was good at, it was computers. To have that taken away from me, and to become an outcast even in that realm was pretty disorienting ... perhaps even crushing. At the same time, I suppose they could have been a lot meaner.

Now, this kid was apparently a rising star in a number of other activities, and I'm not sure why he wouldn't have simply funnelled his efforts toward another hobby for a little bit, and come back to computers a bit later.

I'm really saddened that such a bright youngster decided to take his life over what appears to be a minor infraction. I can honestly say I don't begrudge the school district one bit. I think the initial sting of punishment is probably a good thing, so long as it is followed up with guidance.

Re:suck it up (4)

BinaryC (314673) | more than 13 years ago | (#225069)

> The kid was obviously smart enough to know that he was breaking the rules.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Schools often have an odd perspective as to what hacking is. I once got in trouble for using dos on a windows machine ("everything you need to do you can do in windows, the only reason you have to open dos is to cause trouble"), another time I got in trouble for using telnet (they ran fortress so you couldn't directly get to telnet, but they had IE, so I typed telnet:server.com). I wouldn't call running Dos or Telnet hacking, and never thought I'd get in trouble for doing so. The administration probably refuses to say what the kid did because it was something stupid like that.

Re:poor bastard (1)

Matt - Duke '05 (321176) | more than 13 years ago | (#225080)

Yeah, "blame the jocks." That makes a lot of sense. The kid cracked in to his school's computer system, and although the extent of what he actually did wasn't explained in the article, it said that what he did was illegal. Now whether or not what he did should actually be illegal is another question, but the point remains that it was illegal and obviously broke school rules. Accordingly, the school administrators did what they are supposed to do and suspended him. Once again, whether or not you deem this punishment appropriate is not the issue - this was the punishment that school policy dictated. To say that the administrators acted inappropriately would be ignorant, as we have no idea what the kid even did. So now, the kid goes and hangs himself as a result of this punishment. How in the hell do you get off "blaming the jocks" because "they're always to fault like with Columbine"????? Saying this is tantamount to asserting that it is "always the geeks who have to go and blow up the goddamned schools." As someone who happens to be very active in sports (2 sport varsity athlete), yet also is very interested in Linux, the Internet, and computers in general, I take umbrage to your statement. Go troll somewhere else please.

it's a tradegy but..... (2)

moniker_21 (414164) | more than 13 years ago | (#225094)

I don't want to seem insensitive, but kids are suspended from school everyday for a variety of reasons and they don't commit suicide. Despite our romantic ideas of hackers being underground heroes, hacking is still a crime and like any other crime needs to be dealt with. They didn't say in the article what he did, but it was probably rather serious to warrant a 10 day suspension. The mother says her child seemed happy and the fault surely lies with the school, but OBVIOUSLY her child wasn't fine if he commited suicide hours after being kicked out of school. Just another example of parents not taking responsibility for their children, I wonder how often she even talked to her kid. Again, children are suspended everyday and they don't harm themselves, yet this poor child decided to take his own life which tells me pretty clearly the kid had issues and the school shouldn't be faulted for doing their job in trying to discipline him.

This is *very* sad... (2)

DreamSynthesis (415854) | more than 13 years ago | (#225097)

But let's not jump too far into the murky realm of conclusions on this one. Yes, this is tragic, but by the same token ALL suicides are tragic, inasmuch as they represent the depths people can reach.

Personally, I don't think too much emphasis should be placed on the "hacking" component of this event. Realistically, should one replace the action in question ("hacking", as it were) with anything else "criminal" (and I cringe at the use of the term "hack" in that sense), such as breaking into the school library, the end result could very well be the same.

This youth was troubled, no doubt, and probably terrified of the concept of going to jail more than anything else. I DO need to point out my suspicion that the school system quite possibly went entirely too far in the administration of mental abuse in this case, using fear tactics in the hopes of "making an example of him."

Reminds me of when I was 13, and got nabbed accessing some stuff I "shouldn't have" on my junior high network. Funny how differently I was treated, tho... they actually asked for my help in sealing up some holes.

"Brought to you by Mozilla Build ID: 2001050716"

And these are related how ... ? (2)

Scotch Game (442068) | more than 13 years ago | (#225104)

Let me just state up front that anyone compelled to take their own life is obviously in a state of pain and suffering, whether that be explicit and consciously felt, or subdued and controlled to the point of being out of touch with those feelings. This is a sad story.

However ...

I'm always highly suspicious of these kinds of stories. I think it's difficult at best to draw straight lines between two points in a person's psyche, and I think it's pretty obvious that the decision to take one's life is typically rooted in what is usually a complex configuration of personality traits, circumstances, perceptions and decisions. It is my opinion that unless you are intimately knowledgable about the configurations of those elements within a person's psychology then you run a really ridiculously high risk of committing any number of logical fallacies when trying to assess their reasons for taking any particular action.

The fallacy of joint effect, for example: One thing is held to cause another when in fact both are the effect of a single underlying cause. It would certainly seem likely that this kid took his own life as the result of a threat of imprisonment, especially since he cited this as the reason. But psychological motivations are frequently difficult to decipher. Did he have a predisposal to perfectionism? Was there parental pressures of unreasonable approval/disapproval? Was he even stable to begin with? And are we to trust any media source with being able to truly get to the bottom of these kinds of questions reliably and without bias towards creating a story that is designed to sell a paper?

I'm not defending the school. I'm just saying that regarding a case like this I don't really know what the hell happened, and most no one else does either. Something is held up to cause another thing when, in fact, they may not be as closely related as the media would purport them to be.

Of course, given how reliable general news sources are, this probably isn't a concern ...

Steve Wozniak on Biography (5)

Tachys (445363) | more than 13 years ago | (#225115)

About a month ago I saw a Biography [biography.com] on Steve Wozniak [biography.com] .

They talked about hacking he did in high school. One time he broke into the schools computer and changed all the times the bells rang.

Another time he left a box which had a ticking sound in it. The principal ended up rushing the thing into the middle of the football field thinking it was a bomb. The person saying this was laughing about it

If he did this stuff today how many YEARS of prison would he get?

Umm.... (1)

kypper (446750) | more than 13 years ago | (#225119)

Out of curiousity, WTF???

I question how someone so 'bright and gifted' could have foreseen going to jail. Either he did something really heavy, (though in my experience, schools aren't exactly hard to hack, or worth it) or he was mentally unstable. Even if committing suicide did make sense, (in a hypothetical sense) would'nt it have been better to wait until he was sure he was GOING to jail??

Ahh... the impatience of youth....

My condolences to the family.

Bureaucracy vs. Life (1)

gnovos (447128) | more than 13 years ago | (#225121)

"But this young man did violate school rules and regulations and he understood the severity of the rules he broke." When "rules and regulations" take precidence over common sense the end is near. It is a terrible thing that he died, and it was preventable, but not when you live in a world where the great god bureaucracy rules all.

[OT] Blackbelts (1)

Kiss The Sp0rk (447455) | more than 13 years ago | (#225122)

I'm sorry, but I can't let this line go without comment:

He earned a black belt in tae kwon do with less than four years of training.

I am so fuming mad after reading this line, I can't even read the rest of the article.

The problem with modern martial arts is the tendency to emphasize the art instead of the martial. The men who developed those "styles" centuries ago were warriors, and that's why the military remains among the best sources for practical hand-to-hand training. Founders of the martial arts were also often killers: Chinese organized crime still contains some of the best kung-fu masters alive. When warriors and killers trained, they trained to fight.

But nowadays the Self-Esteem Academy at every other strip mall is a place for little Jennifer and Kelly to spend a few hours until Mommy arrives in her minivan. Those kids -- the typical martial arts student in modern America -- may learn self-discipline, build confidence, and gain a certain amount of fitness on their ways to black belts.

But can they fight?

I've known a handful of black belts whom I wouldn't attempt to tackle with anything less than a 12-gauge. I've also known plenty of others whom I could take with a teaspoon. Face facts: a black belt used to mean that the man wearing it was hell in any back alley brawl, but nowadays cripples, old ladies, and kids wear them.

To quote from What does a black belt really mean? [aikidofaq.com] :

Through the popularity of this column, I get correspondence from all over the country. And the most commonly asked question is, "How long does it take to get a black belt?"I don't know how this question is answered in other schools, but my students know that asking such a question in my dojo would set them back several years in their training. It would be a disaster.

Most people would be overjoyed if I would say it takes just a couple of years to get a black belt, but unfortunately it does not. And though I am afraid most people would not be happy with my answer, I think the general misconceptions about "what is a black belt?" should be clarified as much as possible. This is not a popular subject to discuss in the way I am going to. Indeed, I warn my students not to ask the question in the first place. The answer is not what they want to hear.

How do you get a black belt? You find a competent teacher and a good school, begin training and work hard. Someday, who knows when, it will come. It is not easy, but it's worth it. It may take one year; it may take ten years. You may never achieve it. When you come to realize that the black belt is not as important as the practice itself, you are probably approaching black belt level. When you realize that no matter how long or how hard you train, there is a lifetime of study and practice ahead of you until you die, you are probably getting close to a black belt.

At whatever level you achieve, if you think you "deserve" a black belt, or if you think you are now "good enough" to be a black belt, you are way off the mark, and, indeed a very long way from reaching your black belt. Train hard, be humble, don't show off in front of your teacher or other students, don't complain about any task and do your best in everything in your life. This is what it means to be a black belt. To be overconfident, to show off your skill, to be competitive, to look down on others, to show a lack of respect, and to pick and chose what you do and don't do (believing that some jobs are beneath your dignity) characterize the student who will never achieve black belt. What they wear around their waist is simply a piece of merchandise brought for a few dollars in a martial arts supply store. The real black belt, worn by a real black belt holder, is the white belt of a beginner, turned black by the colour of his blood and sweat.
KTS:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Utensil.

what did he do? (1)

FireChipmunk (447917) | more than 13 years ago | (#225124)

what exactly did this guy do to get kicked out for 10 days? At my school... you don't get suspended for hacking because they call opening Internet Explorer "Microsofting", and that is against the rules. You can get your computer privilidges for "Microsofting". No Joke. Thing is, all of the client computers run Windows 98 (same CD key.. hmm...) now remember, No Microsofting

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

FireChipmunk (447917) | more than 13 years ago | (#225125)

umm.. at my school 0. (the password for the administrator account of Novel hasn't changed for 3 years. It was written on a peaice of paper, on the teacher desk. oops.)

The crime? (3)

GFish4 (449161) | more than 13 years ago | (#225127)

I'd be interested to hear what exactly it was that got him suspended. The fact that the administration is being tight-lipped about the details suggests they're trying to cover their asses. Regardless, it's a shame to hear something like this...

Looks like school is covering its own butt (3)

thedanc (449477) | more than 13 years ago | (#225128)

Anybody else notice that the school was very careful NOT to say what he supposedly did. If he had done something serious, the school would have plastered that everywhere in its own defense. If his "crime" comes out I bet it will be very minor.

There has to be another way... (2)

shr3k (451065) | more than 13 years ago | (#225135)

Why can't we have mandatory counseling in cases like this? Instead of just a suspension and threat of jail time, why can't these kids (especially at the age of 13) be put into a program where they must meet with an adult faculty member to discuss what they did wrong and such? Why suspend them for a long period of time and threaten them with jail when they can teach them right from wrong like any _school_ should do?

Obviously, some people can take things the wrong way. I hope that in the future, schools will be a little more sensitive to things like this and not be quick to push the panic button and make it as if the kid committed murder or something.

--
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