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13-Year-Old Suspended For Hacking Commits Suicide 755

Posted by timothy
from the tragic-reaction dept.
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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13-Year-Old Suspended For Hacking Commits Suicide

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  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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. =)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How does an innocent kid dying get turned into a "women's issue"? A KID DIED! Where was the invitation to quote rape statistics? Quoting rape statistics in jail, that was relevant to the kid (allegedly) being threatened with imprisonment. That was on topic. Criticizing that post because women also get raped is the kind of troll that turns men AND women away from some PACs and idealogies which claim to represent all women.
    By the way, boys and men also get raped, sexually harassed, and sexually discriminated against. This includes boys and men who are NOT lawbreakers. This includes boys and men who are NOT lawbreakers but are IN prison (or reform school, etc.).
    Did you mean to imply that only lawbreakers go to jail, or was that disinformation accidental because your school didn't teach about the same social injustices that my school taught? Or is not injustice unless it happens to a woman who looks and thinks like you? Innocent people go to jail too! Innocent people get raped in jail!
    I'm not saying only innocent people get raped in jail or all innocent people in jail get raped. I'm saying not only lawbreakers are in jail and not only lawbreakers get raped in jail. This is about why the kid was afraid to go to jail. No one in the previous posts said to ignore the fact that innocent women also get raped. No one said it because it wasn't relevant!. The post which you trolled offered a reason for the boy being frightened by the suggestion that he may go to jail. 1 in 4 women get raped. That's a frightening stat. There's a 1 in 4 for chance that you will get raped. Do you think a 13 year old boy has a less that 1 in 4 chance of being raped in jail? Do you think he deserves to get raped for his crime? Do you think less of him because he's not a girl?
    Reality check, when this boy was told he can go to jail, he probably imagined being locked up with adolescents or adults, not kids his own age. He probably imagined his chances of getting raped being a hell of a lot higher than 1 in 4. Reality check, if any of those 1 in 4 women who get raped ever exceeded the speed limit or forced their ways through intersections just as the signals changed from amber to red, she is more of a lawbreaker than this kid is. Try your post this way: "What so many women conveniently forget is that it worse to be kicked out of school, falsely imprisoned, and raped for a crime you didn't commit. Maybe we should try to think of innocent children before worrying so much about lawbreakers."
    Would I be so upset over your troll if this boy didn't seem so much like I was at his age? Yes, I would be just as outraged by your post under his story and I would be and I would be just as shocked and heartbroken that his story happened at all. I was already shaken up by the last /. story [slashdot.org] on a boy being suspended for the indirect reason of being a geek, and that one didn't end in suicide. To turn this boy's death into a soapbox for male bashing (funny how there's no antonym for mysogyny) and to walk over this innocent boy's grave with your blanket statement about lawbreakers is the worst kind of sin.
    Just so you don't accuse me of taking the rape of innocent women lightly, just a few months ago, I listened to a DA tell a friend that if she continues in her attempts to bring rape charges against her former common law partner, she will be charged under some kind of public nuisance law and her friends (that's me) will be charged for helping her. I can tell you first hand that DAs won't limit themselves to prosecuting lawbreakers, in fact some of them would rather prosecute the victim than the criminal. Is this DA a mysogynist? You wouldn't know it by looking at her!
    I'm posting anonymously like you did not because I'm a coward (are you afraid of the truth?) but to leave you to guess my gender. Chances are you'll guess wrong. (Please, people, please don't post any questions about my friend's case, I won't even tell you which state. If I wanted help, I would "Ask Slashdot". We're supposed to be discussing Shinjan's story. I'm making this OT post to complain that an OT post was made under such a tragic story. Please stay on topic and honour the boy.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:48PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:24PM (#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*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:58PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:05PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:06PM (#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?

  • So you forgot you were reading /. with the Oog cookie set, eh?
  • This could have happened to me when I was a kid.

    When I was in primary school, I run in problems with teachers on a regular basis, although I was by no mean a nasty kid. The problem was simple: some of the teachers came completely unprepared, other were simply incompetent, yet third simply had no interest in job they were doing. As a result, I was bored to death during classes, and started causing "problems". Some of these "problems" involved:

    • Starting to play with some toys in the middle of the class, or otherwise ignoring the boring teacher.
    • Stating things like "eer... I have a feeling you don't really understand this subject".
    • writing houseworks only if they looked "interesting", while ignoring the standard ones (I kept this habit all my life, it saved me a lot of time.)

    I guess you can imagine other types of conflicts along these lines... Mediocre teachers did what the medicrits all over the world always do, and tried to blame the kid for their failures. First they "found out" that I'm a halfwitt, and should be moved to "special school". Schools "psyhologist" agreed with this idea, but my mother (who happens to be a medical doctor) didn't, so she took me to children psyhologist. I solved all of the tests they could find in record time and asked for more, so that problem was solved.

    There we were back in school (for some reason, schools psyhologist didn't cross my path for rest of the schooling anymore), it's difficult to argue with a letter from central children hospital saying "extraordinary inteligent", but this didn't stop few extremely stupid teachers from summiting my parents and bothering them with details of how "nasty" I was and such. After some time I learned that having an interesting teacher is a rare privilege, and learned how to ignore the boring ones while concentrating on other activities. By the time I went to secondary school, I was so well trained that I only got in conflict with chemistry teacher once-or-twice during four years i spent there. (OK, being in a "good" school helped)

    I was lucky: My parents fully understood a problem, there were several inteligent teachers in the school who learned how to keep me buisy, and last but not the least important, my parents inscribed me on all kinds of out-of-school activities. Were it not for these three factors, I would have probably ended up doing something illegal myself: not out of any pressing need, or mischief, but simply because I would have been bored to death.

    My advice to parents: don't let idiots ruin your kids life. Always double-check what teachers are telling you, especially in case one teacher complains a lot, while another one seams to be completely at ease with your kid. And, first thing to check in case you have a "problem kid" is how inteligent it is (don't trust your school authorities on that, search for independent expertise). If it turns out to be extremely inteligent, all you have to do is find out a way to keep it buisy. Punishments and such can only make matter worse.

  • how many competent IT people are going to be working for a public school salary?

    I can think of at least one [woz.com]!

  • I first thought this was a joke but then realized this kid somehow figured it out in his head that hacking into a computer would set the government on his trail and sentence him to prison, a perception generated by many a web site news agency. What else does a 13 year old have to go on but what he reads on the internet?

    When you read article after article day after day about the government trying to rule the world by squashing computer hackers into little bits, it raises a generation of kids who can think of nothing but how computer hacking is everything the universe is made of and when you're caught hacking into a school computer you've commited a crime against the government worse than murder, the government is going to send the armed forces after you, imprison you for life, and castrate your grandkids, when all you've done is hack into a computer.

    Some people don't know when to quit hyping conspiracies and stop sending these kids home with nightmares for the rest of their lives. Thank God the media hasn't picked up burning toast as the next government conspiracy.
  • Why don't they fix they damn holes before they kill another kid?!?
    You should feel like an idiot for saying this. You are taking the tragic death of a child and using it to advance your no-brainer views on computer security.

    Is it just me or are we seeing a serious loss of perspective here?

    --

  • by Sanity (1431) on Monday May 14, 2001 @10:50AM (#224444) Homepage Journal
    Of course, this will be modded down a troll, the price you pay for having a different opinion on slashdot, but I am going to say it anyway...

    What if Microsoft used the suicide of a Linux user to advance the view that Linux was bad? Well the same thing is happening here. Anyone who kills themselves has serious problems, and the implication that just because a kid gets suspended from school, and commits suicide, means that the school killed him, is oppertunism at its worst. If you think that people should concentrate more on security, than on punishing people who break security, then so-be-it. But don't use the death of a clearly disturbed child to advance your view point.

    --

  • Look, it's hard being a kid. Kids emotions range - some kids have strong emotions, and don't understand how to control them, others don't have emotions as strong, and have masterey over them.

    One thing I noticed, particularly with families of asian origin, there is a typical tradition - moreso with orientals than indians from what I've seen, where the child's sense of self is deeply rooted in the family. That's how these children are raised, it's part of traditional oriental societies. I don't want to be cliche and use the term "honor", but I think that's what may have happened in this case (though, again, I don't recall having seen this as much in indian families I knew while growing up. More in oriental families, specifically, chinese and korean - didn't know any japanese).

    So this kid, has all these talents, was an honor student, got straight a's I bet, brought pride and honor to his family, but also got exposed to the hacker culture too - and figured, hey, this will build my skillz, and also bring honor to my family. Instead, he got caught, and brought grave dishonor to his family. Now, I'm as white as they come, and I would have been mortified at the shame it would have brought my family had I ever been suspended. Bad grades, I excelled at, and that was shameful - but to be expelled, or even to be told that something I did was a jailable offense, that would have been pretty harsh - and I don't think I would feel too proud of myself after that. This kid must have really felt bad about how he made his parents look, he must have been too ashamed to bear it.

    That said, maybe a gentler approach would have been better, maybe a more intelligent look at his case, rather than branding his forehead with a big-red "H" because he learned how to turn on a computer - maybe that would have averted this tragedy.

    But know. We've got to fully prosecute this "war on hackers", because the public's getting bored of the "war on drugs" and "war on terrorism".
  • by clasher (2351) <bkeffer&thecommandline,org> on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:22PM (#224449) Homepage
    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.
  • ...and it's way beyond time that we introduced a zero-tolerance policy towards *all* religions.

    Religions are by their very nature a screwed value system. They demand that you believe things which are neither provable nor logical, and worse than that, demand that you live your life by those non-ratifiable beliefs.

    People should stop pointing the finger at the school administration (which thankfully in the US, unlike here in the UK, is refreshingly religion-free), and instead have a good look at parents. Hindu, Christian, Islam or Pagan, it's about time we stamped out this nonsense which is ruining people's lives.

    There was a time when the world was ruled by religion- it was called the Dark Ages.

    --

  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Monday May 14, 2001 @12:40AM (#224451) Homepage
    VAXman: Not only is it theft and burgluray

    It may be many bad things, but definitely not theft nor burglary.

    Theft is the intention to permanently deprive someone of physical property. It does not apply to IP such as grades or computer security.

    Burglary is theft plus breaking a physical barrier (eg. picking a lock, smashing a window). Again it does not apply to IP such as grades or computer security.

    Us spods need to fight this whole concept of "software theft". Theft permanently deprives someone of something tangible. Software is not tangible, and copying it does not deprive anyone of the original. Grades are not tangible either, and changing his own or others who have paid/asked him does not deprive anyone else of theirs.

    an insult to academic integrity

    Starting with the dictionary... :-)

    --

  • by Genom (3868) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:52PM (#224453)
    We're definitely not getting the whole story here. Something else happened or was going on, and that something is most probably the root cause of what happened.

    According to the mother, he left a note, saying he'd rather be dead than go to jail. I'm inclined to believe this part of the story, as it seems something that a 13 year old kid would write, and I don't see why the mother would falsify it.

    What's also pretty much unquestioned is that the parents WANT to blame someone. They WANT to be able to vent their pain at something/someone, and the school is a VERY convenient target.

    Now...we have a kid, who "hacked" a school computer ("hacked" being defined by the tight-lipped school district, who doesn't say exactly what the kid did, or exactly how severe the infringement was), and was given a 10 day out-of-school suspension (a VERY serious punishment - in my district, even excessively violent kids who physically wounded shool staff were at MAXIMUM given 5 days (AKA: one school week) suspension out-of-school). We have no idea what the crime was, exactly, or why the school district thought it necessary to administer such a severe punishment.

    We also know (from the kid's note) that SOMEHOW he got an inkling that he WAS going to go to jail for what he did. This is a bright kid. Gifted both physically and mentally. Beginning puberty (which means that what's going on in his head probably doesn't quite add up - hormones are tricky things) - and most probably very curious. A kid like that isn't going to take "If you were an adult, this would be considered a crime, and could possibly carry some jail time" as "YOU ARE GOING TO JAIL". It's going to take something a bit more blunt to put that kind of idea in the kids head. I'm inclined to think someone spoke too harshly, or used an indirect threat that got taken out of context in the kid's mind, in combination with the severity of his punishment.

    Most probably that comment came from whomever handed down the punishment to the kid. (I'm assuming the principal of the school)

    Is he directly to blame for the kid's death? Absolutely not. Did he contribute to it? I'm inclined to say yes.

    What we don't know is if there were other factors that may have contributed to this. Things like how the kid's social life at school was - was he bullied? Hated by his peers? (or *thought* his peers hated him) Any number of things could have been going on that may have contributed in part to this.

    While I feel it's wrong to blame the school exclusively for the suicide, I *do* agree that there is a case for partial blame there.

    The situation most probably could have been handled much more delicately. A *short* suspension, followed by possibly giving the kid an active project with the computer network could have been a good start.
  • I feel for the parents and their immense loss. There's no way that anyone can know their loss without going through it as well.

    I have a friend, one who rings late at night, is regularly depressed, and more than just occasionally talks about ending it all. I make time for her, because otherwise, she'll just be another statistic before the year's out.

    There's no reason to do take your own life. If you're in the same boat, get some help now. There are many anonymous forms of help, so no one needs to know. But it's so much better if you can ask your friends and family for help. If they had an ounce of humanity in them, like me, they'll take the calls at 3 am.

    It's never too late to ask for help. The numbers for places like LifeLine (it's a secular suicide prevention line) are found in your phone books.

    Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program [yellowribbon.org]

  • by Marsala (4168) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:46PM (#224455) Homepage

    You have to understand that this was a 13 year old kid and that he's going to take this kind of shit seriously because you can't possibly expect a child to have the perspective on this at all. Especially if he had never been in trouble (trouble being defined as having been sent to the principal's office and suspended) before.

    When you talk to a 13 year old child, you are not dealing with an adult. Yes, they need to learn that what they did was wrong, but you don't throw something like fscking JAIL TIME in their face. That's just as tasteless as telling a 4-year old that if he doesn't behave you'll lock him in the closet with the boogie man. If you can't find a better way to reinforce the severity of the offense than to draw on the fear of an adult punishment, then chances are high that you don't understand kids... let alone have even a pale image of a clue as to what kind of damage you might be doing.

    Is the principal directly to blame for the kid killing himself? No. But he certainly helped set up the stage.

    I just hope this dork feels as sick now as he felt self-righteous when he watched the terror creep across the kid's face when he told him he "could" be going jail. Although the principal didn't kill him, he's got bad kharma like Shawn Kemp's got child support payments. When he lies awake at night at 3am staring at the ceiling, I hope he begins to just get an inkling of what his role was.

    And I hope it's enough to convince to get the hell out of middle school education and into a situation where he can ego trip on pushing around people his own size.

  • I genuinely consider this tragic, but I think the question needs to be asked:

    Why is it that when a 13-year-old kid cracks your network he's called a script kiddie, but when he cracks someone else's and commits suicide, he's called gifted? I think if he was as smart as the article made him sound, he would not have committed suicide.

    That he holds a black belt in TaekwonDo and would still take his own life is a little surprising to me, as well. I'm a TKD practitioner, and our tenets are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Someone with a black belt is expected not just to memorize these tenets, but follow them as a way of life. Committing suicide flies in the face of all these tenets.

    Surely an intelligent 13-year-old would have realized he wouldn't be jailed for his offenses, too.

    I suppose these questions are all moot. The situation is as disturbing as it is curious. I get the feeling, though, that maybe something was left out in the article. Things just don't seem to add up.

    Jason.
  • Read the article already.

    • This was _not_ part of a zero-tolerance policy.
    • The kid wasn't going to jail. He was told that if he were an adult, he could have gone to jail for those actions, which was true.


  • While this sounds like some teen angst joke, it ain't. While 13 year olds are completely capable of reason, many of them are so caught up in their emotional travails (something that makes it much easier for adults to manipulate them).

    It's like a principle of mine, years and years ago. He'd do everything in his power to exaggerate the seriousness of an offense, mess with a kid's emotions. Then this jackass would call up their parents and make these kids give sobbing confessions about the petty, inane, totally irrelevant things their done "wrong".

    And, as was pointed out, the way the media plays on the issues of violence and other social factors in the prison environment, is it any wonder than some kid with a lot of smarts, but very little in the way of LIFE EXPERIENCE would be willing to DIE to avoid that?

    Note: I'm not saying I agree with the kid's conclusions. I'm just saying I can understand how he arrived at them.


    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • Why are people martyring this kid? he checked it in, he gave up. Listen I know there are a lot of kids on this site, and a lot of you think the world is stacked against you. No matter how shitty you feel, and how unfair the world seems at the time, killing yourself is ALWAYS the wrong answer. It gets nothing done, you are dead. If you feel like taking your, or someone elses, life talk to someone, if you think you can't talk to your parents or teachers, call a hotline, check yourself into a hospital, email me, ANYTHING but killing yourself. Remember when you are dead, there will be no more fun times for you, your family will never be the same. You never get what you want when you are dead.
  • if I were to work for a public school, I'd have to go through all sorts of 'teaching certification' bullshit. Which would effectively limit me to teaching at a private school...

    I'm no expert in the area, but if I'm not mistaken any decent private school will have at least that many certification requirements for two reasons:

    1. they have to be able to prove to the state board of education or whoever that the degrees they issue fulfill the requirements for that level of degree in the state and
    2. parents who pay booko-bucks to send their kids to a private school want some tangible proof that the teachers there are the best qualified educational professions their money can buy.

    AFAIK, certification isn't really that bad: if teaching really interests you, then there should be no question that it's worth it.

    My $.02,

    -"Zow"

  • God, that's so eerie, that sounds a lot like me.

    I'll one up you there (nothing personal) - It was describing me perfectly up to reform school - hair & all. In fact, the other kids in High School called me Screech to tease me. Fortunately I found my revenge in sucess and not suicide: instead of reform school I went to college and these days I'm pulling an impressive salary doing computer security work for the government while working on my Ph.D.

    Oh - and the hair grew out into a chic magnet in college (then I cut it off about a month after my wedding).

    -"Zow"

  • Senior Year of high school. I was a honor student who was involved with the Academic Decathalon, a football player, on the track team, the editor of the school's TV news program and founding officer of the Computer Club.

    We have two parking lots in our school. One close to the school (got to get there early) and one further away. I ALWAYS park at the close parking lot (because I always got to school early to hang with my friends, play magic and bull shit about computers). However, I went to a Pantera concert the night before, got in later than usual and parked in the far away parking lot.

    Well, wouldn't you know it, that was they day they decided to let drug-sniffing dogs scour the parking lot. However, they only did the far away praking lot (I guess they figured drug users don't get to school early). I was called out of class in the morning and asked to report to my car. I had a pretty decent idea of why they might be interested in my car.

    I get there and I'm asked to consent to a search and am told that if I don't consent they'll get a search warrant. I consent. I'm asked to unlock the car so a plain-clothes policewoman can search my car. Knowing that I had a bag of weed and a small bong under the driver's seat, I open the passanger-side door. The polie officer searchs the car including under every seat except the driver seat. She finds a stem, two seeds and a mostly burnt paper with resin on it. I am told to wait in the principals office.

    I wait outside her office for 4 hours, in plain view of everyone walking by in between classes. Fun, I tell you. I finally get into the office and I am told that they found drugs in my car and that the school is a zero-tolerance school and the evidence will be turned over to the police for prosecution. I was also on indenfinte suspension from that moment. My parents were called and told the same. I was sent home. My parents yelled and screamed at me for a half hour or so and then sent me to my room (or I left, I don't remember). At this time I typed a letter on my Amiga explaining the reasons that it is fucked up that I would every have to go to jail. I said I didn't want to go to jail and it would be better if I were dead. I then swallowed three 30 count bottles of Tylenol PM (painkiller + sleep pill) and a bottle of something else.

    I ate dinner with my parents. I had to go to the Senior Musical practice that night. I tried to get out of it but they insisted. I felt pretty drunk by the time I arrived. I fell alseep in the seats of the theatre before practice. Practice had started and at somepoint a teacher woke me up and said I didn't look to good. I said I didn't feel to good and thought I should go home. I remember vomiting outside the school.

    I don't remember this part but was filled in on it later. I went to the school parking lot and fell asleep next to a light pole. Someone in my class was driving by, saw and recognized me. he drove up and got me into the car. He knew where I lived (I lived a mile away from the school) or I told him, but he got my home and helped me inside. I went to sleep on the living room couch.

    I remember this part. My parents were away but they came back soon after. They asked what I was doing home early from practice. From this point on, I spoke completely in non-sensical sentences. I knew what I was saying didn't make a lick of sense (I was speaking stream-of-conscious annd my conscious was really fucked up) but I was still trying to act "normal." It was a losing battle. My parent's were convinced I was on some "heavy drugs" because I was, after all a "drug user." I had only smoked pot previosuly (ok, ok, I dropped acid a couple times too). I was sent to me room.

    All I wanted to do was sleep. My mother came back up to my room and started asking "what did you take?" "Did you take anything at the concert?" She was convinced I had taken something at the concert and was having a flashback or it took a while to hit (24 hours!). To get her to shut up so I could get back to sleep, I told her that I took all of those pills (pointing to 4 empty bottles of pills).

    That was a bad idea! She made me get up and go to the hospital! It was totally crowded, but she just went to the reg desk and slapped down 4 empty bottles of pills and said "he took those." I was brought back immediately.

    I started vomiting everywhere, including all over a nurse (sorry!). They made me drink charcoal and pushed a tube up my nose and gave me IV. Since, by this time, it had been proably 3 or 4 hours since I took the pills, I ingested alot of it and there wasn't a whole lot they could except to put hook me up to all the monitors (critical condition!) They told my parents that there is a good chance I would die.

    Well, luckily I didn't. I was released the next day. My kidneys went into shock and I had to take some medication for that.

    So, I had a meeting with the principal and some pyschs the next Tuesday. I think they found out about the suicide on Monday. When I came in, I was now told that I would not be suspended or expelled, the police would not be involved and I would have to do is go to forced Psych sessions and "group therapy."

    The only thing good about the Psych sessions was the Psych liked to play Civilization, so we spent the whole time exchanging stratagies. Group Therapy was weird. Those were people who did some hardcore shit.

    Everyone except for one girl and one guy who they found an oz+ of weed had no disciplanory action taken against them. Too this day, I'm convinced it's because of my attempted suicide. I guess they didn't want one of their best students to have killed themselves over a few branches and seeds found in their car.

    In the end, the suicide was one of the best things I ever did. I began a 100% turn around on my personality. I used to be a depressed and loathsome individual. I did alot of soul-searching and becamse much happier and certainly no longer suicidal. I finished highschool, finished college, and now work as an electrical engineer.

    What greater good is being fullfilled if I were to have been expelled or gone to jail because I smoked pot? My being caught didn't cause me to stop either. Though I am not currently smoking right now, I smoked on and off all through college (only stopping 3 months before internships for drug tests).

    Anyway, same story, different law.

    Oh yeah, I had hacked into the dstrict computer shortly after that. But that was only because the Psych's office had the phone number and his username to the district computer in his office. My friend guessed his password, it was money! (Thanks Jim!)
    ---------------------------
  • by merlyn (9918) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:29PM (#224481) Homepage Journal
    If this is "expungement", it won't apply to me, because at the moment I have multiple felonies. No go.
  • got more of a reaction than he bargained for.

    The bully must have leaned too hard, built a heavy (big) house of cards on this kid's imagination and had him convinced he was ruined and had brought shame on his family.

    Unlike a American tough who would have told him to use the guilt trip ticket as a suppository, the kid, a respectful caring and curious Indian, used the ticket on a one way trip.

    Somebody needs to find a new career before he fucks up again. Maybe as a prison gard?
  • One should instead question the screwiness of a value system in which a kid would rather die than be fingerpointed for doing something bad.

    --

  • You know, I was smart and got shit on for it, too.

    But what I did *NOT* do is go deliberately try to make myself a target, then bitch about being a target.

    If you know folks want to hate you, and you respond by trying to look like something you know they'll fear, then you're committing the same idiocy as someone who walks into a synagogue wearing a Nazi uniform.

    If you want someone to stop hating you because you're different, you don't achieve this by accentuating your differences; you achieve it by showing them what you have in common.

    -
  • 2) because she was already planning my submission of the hours video taping as hours of community service when we were still in that guy's office. She's pretty crafty.

    Bullshit. This is totally an adolescent fantasy.

    But when something broke, someone had to be the fall guy. Guess who got that honor...

    If you didn't know what you were doing, as you've admitted, how do you be so sure that you weren't the ones who caused the problems in the first place? This is just another teenage oppression fantasy. You poor child. You've had such hard life. Here's my pity.

    Normally I wouldn't waste my time on people like yourself, but this post hit a nerve.

    It hit a nerve because you and I both know that I was dead on correct. If I were wrong, you could ignore it. It stings because you know I called your bluff, and now you're back-peddling, making up more BS about your mom coming to your defense, and how she planned all along to bill the school for your unjust punishment. Take a step back and listen to your story from our point of view. It sounds like total bullshit, like something a little kid would make up when he was caught in a lie.
  • Funny... my parents, knowing that suspension from school is the root of all the troubles in this world, just made sure I didn't do something to get myself suspended.

    I concur. Too many people on this board just pipe right up and say it was the schools fault. The relationship he had with his parents goes far and beyond any single punishment that principal could dish out. If he killed himself out of fear of a jail sentence, well, that says a lot more about his relations with his folks than it does about the school. There was some seriously screwed up values in that kid's head. He didn't learn that from school, that's for sure.

    The people that raise you have more influence on your values than all of the other people you'll ever meet in your life as you're growing up.
  • One should instead question the screwiness of a value system in which a kid would rather die than be fingerpointed for doing something bad.

    One should also question a value system that makes what amounts to a high-school prank a serious crime, where a child could and, it appears, was threatened with jail time. The fact that the threat may have been empty was apparently irrelevant to the outcome in this case.

    Changing one's grades is, at least in a moral sense, an academic offense. Not a crime, whatever the politicos may be saying, or defining, in an effort to curry 30 second favors from the miniscule percentage of the vapid public who still bothers to cast a vote. The child should have been suspended, perhaps even expelled, but he never should have been threatened with jail time. The fact that the laws are written such as to define what he did in criminal, rather than acedemic, terms underscores just how flawed our entire system of values is. The kneejerk reaction of just about everybody, including (and perhaps as a result of) the media, whenever a child is caught and punished for cracking merely confirms the ethical bankrupcy of our culture, not to mention the overwhelming stupidity of the masses of which it is composed.
  • 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.
  • You take take your rules and shove them up your ass if it results in a kid killing himself.

    End of story.
  • Having known someone relatively well before he checked out, I can say that you don't really know why people do it. You think you do, and people go on and on about why he/she did it. Others come in from afar and get passionate about why it happened and muddy the waters and raise tensions. In the end, after the dust has settled,passion has cooled, and we have had some time to adjust to the loss, we find out we really still don't know why they did it. The sad part is that teenagers frequently don't know what they want to wear tomorrow, let alone whether or not they want to stay and make a go of it. Long before they know what the options for life are they opt out with incomplete data.
    How can you write gold code in this level if you still don't know many of the system calls yet?
  • 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.
  • I've pondered this article as a background process for a couple of hours now because the motive for suicide bothered me. Even if the kid thought he might go to jail (regardless of how unlikely that is as an actual scenario), is that really something to kill yourself over? Then it occurred to me that this kid has a Hundu upbringing, so he may well believe in reincarnation. Whereas most Westeners (regardless of theistic or atheistic leanings) would consider suicide to be the final Game Over, if you believe in reincarnation then suicide is more like quitting your current game and starting over. Perhaps this kid wanted to live a more-or-less perfect life, and the suspension and/or threat of imprisonment was enough to make him consider his record blemished. Rather than live with a blemished record, he hit the reset switch and started over.

    In the absence of any better suggestion, that was the most plausible theory I was able to formulate. And in some sense I find it more disturbing than the prospect that he was driven to despair.

  • by Zico (14255) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @08:54PM (#224507)

    So schools should consider not suspending rule-breakers because it might hurt the kids self-esteem? If a 13-year old is so mentally unstable that he kills himself over a suspension, it's probably best to keep him out of school and get him to a psychologist.

    It's time to quit coddling kids like this. We already have enough problems from protecting kids egos at the cost of discipline as it is: not holding back failing kids anymore and letting them go on to the next grade; giving trophies to anyone who competes, instead of anything special for the actual winners; constructive math bullshit where if a student "discovers" that 2 + 4 = 7, the teachers won't come out and tell the kid that the answer is wrong, etc. Of course, the people who do the coddling never stop to think that if you never teach a kid how to deal with adversity, then the first time he faces it, even if it's something as minor as a suspension (I was suspended three times in high school), he might just melt down and kill himself. Wonderful work, guys.


    Cheers,

  • Amen. It's times like this that you remember that ideology's never as important as the individual. My younger brother committed suicide just last December. Bright boy, but was hiding problems with depression. The only commonality I can see between my brother's case and Shinjan's is that they both spent, in their parents' eyes, way too much time on the computer. My condolences to Shinjan's family, and the staff and students of the school this fellow attended. This kind of thing's never easy. We should be offering our support to their community, instead of judging him and his peers. (That having been said, I do believe that his parents have a right to know what the infractions were. The least the school could do is that. His parents need to grasp onto these things in order to heal, and accept.) James
  • by powerlord (28156) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:47PM (#224530) Journal
    Maybe those of us with the experiance should offer to do some pro-bono work for those schools (or other non-profit/low-profit orginizations) that could use our expertise?

    Lots of other "professional" jobs have this sort of a requirement as part of their membership, or at least encourage it.

    I'm not saying that this would solve the problem, but perhaps it could help.
  • by hey! (33014) on Monday May 14, 2001 @05:49AM (#224545) Homepage Journal
    They were doing their job, and the next time someone breaks their "zero-tolerance" policy, I hope they do the same.

    Even if they believe it will lead to the same end?

    From the article:

    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.

    So, it appears your position is the same as the school superintendent's. While I agree that teachers and officials cannot be held as primarily responsible for this child's death, I do think that they partially responsible. Having a "zero tolerance policy" doesn't absolve people of the consequences of their actions.

    Zero tolerance policies exist so that people don't have to excercise judgement. Think of all the questions that zero policy sweeps under the rug:

    • Who is this person I am condemning?
    • What was the actual extent of the wrong involved, and what was the person's intent?
    • What is the effect of my actions in this case on that person and the people around?
    • Are there extenuating circumstances?
    • In light of all the above, is my action reasonable, just and proportionate?
    • Are there steps I can take to reduce the unwanted effects of my?


    Excercising this form of judgement is the moral responsiblity of every person who is in a position of power of another.

    "Zero tolerance" -- on computer cracking, drugs or whatever other issue -- is the preferred policy of people who don't want to think about an issue or who are uncomfortable with the messy world of real people with real problems. It's no wonder that schools systems take this position on cracking, given their usual lack of comptuer sophistication. It's easier to wish it away under "zero tolerance" than to come to grips with it.

    So -- to what degree are the officials and teachers responsible? There are degerees of culpability. They are certainly not as responsible as if they handed a loaded gun to a suicidal teenager. But if indeed the policy in indeed "zero tolerance", then the policy setters will have mandated that the people who ought to have known Shinjan best, the circumstances of his infraction, his potential reaction and the dangers involved, these people are not allowed the time or scope to use their judgement to find an appropriate form of discipline. Depending on the policy, they might not have had the leeway to mitigate the results of their actions, say by bringing the parents in for a conference first -- even though by bringing the parents in they would have been able to enlist them in changing his future behavior. The only reason I can think of for sending a child of this age home without this kind of consideration is if he presented an immediate danger to other people.

    For what earthly reason would a policy exists that ties the hands of people know know the particiants and situation best and prevent them from taking the most effective action at their disposal? There's only one reason ever for "zero tolerance" policies: because it is administratively easier for the policy setters.

    Therefore I believe the policy setters bear a grave moral responsibility in this matter, one which would well justify their resignation or removal. The people who enforced this policy may or may not bear some responsibility -- it depends on the circumstances. If they routinely mitigate the official policy with their personal judgement, and in this case it simply went awry -- well nobody's judgement is perfect and I feel sorry for them. If they slavishly followed a bad and immoral policy because it was easier for them, then they are responsible too.

    I know this sounds harsh, especially since I am advocating a humane attitude towards people who have done wrong. But, I think that you can advocate humane and just treatment of offenders without erasing all personal responsibility. It's the people who can't conceive of a middle ground where there is both justice and mercy that advocate either zero tolerance on one hand or absolving people because they feel bad on the other.

  • by EricHeinz (34163) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:34PM (#224549)
    First off, I'd like to say that I think it is unfair to load all the blame on the school. However, for those of you criticize him for doing a "silly thing"... Do you remember what it was like to be thirteen? Do you remember being a teenager? Part of being a teenager is being unstable, he didnt have to have problems in order to do something like that, 30 thousand people in America commit suicide every year, do they all have problems? The truth is that when you are thirteen and have never been yelled at before it will scare the crap out of you. This is a kid who go nothing but praise his ENTIRE life and to have to deal with a 10 day suspension (can you say "goodbye ivy league"?) is heartbreaking. When you're a teenager losing your girlfriend of two weeks is a huge ordeal, imagine this. Thinking logically, yes its a very rash reaction, but the bottom line is you dont think logically all the time when you're a teenager. I'm not saying we should exempt children from the law, but we have to keep that in mind. Adults all too easily forget the feeling of every emotion seemingly swallowing you whole and thats not fair at all. Ever wonder why "kids these days" always seem to be rebelling? Maybe because they cant adults who can empathize with them. I'm well aware there are plenty of adults that can help kids get through those times, but the sad truth - and yes im stereotyping - is that there arent too many of those adults in school authority positions. Do you really think kids feel safe talking to their guidance counciler about their problems? Before we condemn people for "silly actions" we have to try to see things from their perspective.
  • by Kaypro (35263) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:56PM (#224556)
    First I want to extend my deepest condolences to all who are directly affected by this tragedy.

    I have a twelve year old brother who in his quest to be just like his older brother, has taken on a quite impressive knowledge of computers, networks and programming. I start to question myself that if in his child like curiosity had he done something similar, what would his emotional response be?

    In 7th grade our class was introduced to the Basic programming language, an hour a week. Of course there being more kids than computers, I was one day assigned to the main server to use... go figure. As I worked on my assignment I mistyped a line number for a "goto" statement and inadvertantly created an endless loop. As can be forseen the server locked up and all kids were kicked out of their assignment. The teacher who had no idea what was going on assumed I did this on purpose. For the first time in my school career of being a straight A student, living up to my parents expectations, and fear of becoming less then the best, I got in serious trouble. Sitting in detention that day, I felt emotions that no 12 year old should feel. I had thoughts that not only scared me but would scare anyone else as well.

    Do not blame the beautiful innocence of a childs curiosity.

    Blame socities ignorance. The same soicety that does not realize the group of gifted children that are being brought up in this technologically advancing world. If we can not come to realize that the emotions of a child are amazingly fragile, we are doomed to repeat undeserved wrath upon them. This common thread also expands to the increase in school violence.

    Don't assume, become aware.
  • by .pentai. (37595) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:05PM (#224560) Homepage
    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?
  • by K8Fan (37875) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:59PM (#224564) Journal
    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.

  • by K8Fan (37875) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @08:44PM (#224565) Journal
    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!

    There's a legal concept called an Attractive Nuisance [pipeline.com] -

    "A potentially harmful object so inviting or interesting to a child that it would lure the child onto the property to investigate."

    It applies to things like swimming pools, but it should equally apply to things like computer systems so poorly maintained that script kiddies (or larval stage hackers) can easily crack them. If a pool owner is legally responsible for some kid drowning because the gate on his fence was broken, the school district should be liable for a computer system that multiple 13 year old kids have broken into. This is as if several kids have drown in the pool.

  • by K8Fan (37875) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:54PM (#224566) Journal
    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?

  • by Manaz (46799) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:56PM (#224588) Homepage
    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.
  • by pirodude (54707) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:47PM (#224600) Homepage
    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.
  • by kriegsman (55737) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:21PM (#224603) Homepage
    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

  • by THB (61664) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:55PM (#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.
  • by dimator (71399) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:56PM (#224645) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at the parent comment. I was replying to his idea that the people who set down the "suspension" are at fault. What a ludicrous idea. They were doing their job, and the next time someone breaks their "zero-tolerance" policy, I hope they do the same.

    You asked, "I really don't understand the intent of posting this article on slashdot. How does it apply to anything?" and yet it's clear from your comment that you didn't read the article (or if you did, that you have absolutely no reading comprehension skills).

    Actually, I did read the article. And, aside from the kid being a "hacker", I don't see why it's on slashdot. Can you explain that to me? Has slashdot started posting tragic deaths that should not have occured, and we're supposed to discuss them? If the kid had punched a teacher, was suspended, and then killed himself, would we see the story posted here? But because his crime was of hacking, we're supposed to.... what exactly?

    Was it your extensive, intuitive knowledge of the particulars +
    You think maybe somehow your factually bereft opinion is significant, what, because you're utterly ignorant of the particulars but you're what, a CS major, male, a student? Because you're projecting your own disturbed, unstable character onto others to compensate for some other perceived lack in yourself?


    Personal attacks? Don't those take credibility away from your counter-argument?

    Because he committed suicide, he is "disturbed and unstable"? You might reasonably argue that, but you certainly don't provide a substantive account.

    I need to prove that suicide is an action that is performed by the disturbed and unstable??? Nice one.

    you're directing your speculation on a dead 13-year old who can't defend himself.

    The poor kid is peripheral to my argument that:
    A) The parent comment is insane (as are the parents of the kid) to think that the officials who handed down this punishment are at fault, and
    B) This piece of news has absolutely no place in a forum for "news for nerds, stuff that matters."

    (Now, go ahead and mod me as a troll.)


    --
  • by Cyborgdux (72036) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:20PM (#224647) Homepage
    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.

  • by kspett (75618) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:56PM (#224657)

    Some of you people have got to be kidding me. When I was in the sixth grade, I screwed around with my middle school's network. (If anyone reading this goes to Half Hollow Hills middle school, I'd love to hear from you!) You know what they did? Why, they suspended me. And guess what? I deserved it. You can say whatever you like, but the way that the administration is going to see it is that you're screwing around on a network that contains very important data. Being told be the kid that he knows what he's doing is bullshit to them. What if he had screwed up and fubared the all the grading data or the attendence records? Suspension isn't an excessive punishment for potentially endangering all the data on the school's/county's/state's network. Very real damage could be done.

    As far as suicide, that's bullshit. No one kills themself over a suspension. Find a therapist or a psychologist or a counselor. Ask them if they think even a chronic over-achiever with strict parents would do something like that over a suspension. In fact, I'd like to know why the journalist didn't. People who end their lives invariably have a history of emotional instability. And believe me, that can be hidden from the most intrusive of parents easily.

    So, in conclusion, this article is bullshit. An unstable kid did something stupid, got punished for it, and that along with whatever else he was dealing with was just a little too much. Maybe a week from now those parents will find the kid's journal or one of his friends will come forward and tell them about what his feelings were *really* like.


    Kevin "Cash Money" Spett

  • by Maul (83993) on Monday May 14, 2001 @05:02PM (#224665) Journal
    When I was a Freshman in high school (school will remain nameless), our administrators thought it'd be a good idea to give everyone at school an email address. This was before most people had email accounts, so this was actually a fairly cool idea.

    However, one day my mom got a phone call saying that I had sent a death threat to the teacher in charge of the email accounts. I was sent to the Principal's the next day, and I was interrogated by the teacher, the assistant principal, and a police officer.

    Needless to say, I did not write the email. The idiot teacher kept the passwords to all the accounts (which we were not allowed to change) in a black notebook in his room, which was easily accessible by students when the teacher was not present. In short, any student out to get me (and there were probably a few being that I was a computer geek subject to occaisional ridicule) could easily obtain my password and send an email from my account.

    Thankfully, this was way before the whole spree of school shootings, so there was no paranoia among the school staff. I actually was able to proove to the assistant principal and the officer that anyone could have sent that email. Because of the fact that anybody could obtain anyone else's password, things were resolved in my favor. The next year, IIRC, school email was no longer available.

    Had this happened within the last two years, I can envision that I probably would have been suspended, or even expelled, and that I might have even faced criminal charges due to the school's own stupidity. I feel sorry for high school kids today, because if they are even accused of something like this, they will probably get off much worse than I did, even if they never did anything at all.

  • by kimihia (84738) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:51PM (#224666) Homepage

    IMO this is due to pop culture's perception of hacking. If I told people that I was hacking some code [kimihia.org.nz] people I know would swoon at the thought of my 'illegal' behaiour.

    The school threatened the poor guy and got all up tight and crazy about it and scared the crap (and life) out of him.

    That's a real pity. Maybe they should have got a clue about security instead.

    My worst crime at school was programming stuff when I should have been writing essays. Ooops. A week without computer access. But even with that black mark against me I still had the root password and was responsible for adding new users and resetting passwords. Props to my old school [school.nz].

  • by sg3000 (87992) <sg_public@NoSpam.mac.com> on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:57PM (#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.


  • by MicroBerto (91055) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:51PM (#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

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

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


    It can be summed up simply by my former Matrix Analysis professor on instructing us on how to use Matlab in the computer lab. At the end, he simply stated

    "If you have problems getting the computers to work, do what I do. Look around the room for the youngest person, and ask them for help."

    He was right.
  • by VAXman (96870) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:30PM (#224694)
    I have no idea if you really know the situation are not, but if it is true that he hacked into the school's grade system, changed his grades, and sold access, then he definitely deserves to be punished to the absolute fullest extent. That definitely deserves suspension, or even expulsion. Not only is it theft and burgluray, but it's an insult to academic integrity.

    From the article, and from the rest of the comments, people made it out to be something minor like reading teacher's e-mail or crashing the network. But changing grades is an extremely serious offence. He seriously got off very easy if all he got was a 10 day suspension (his own self-imposed punishment notwithstanding).
  • by cybercuzco (100904) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:04PM (#224707) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • 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?

    ---

  • by Tom7 (102298) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:09PM (#224716) Homepage Journal
    ... 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.

  • I'm sorry Randal, but you have to understand that you were convicted of felonies, and that is the law. You made a decision, and you must live with it.
    Deft words of wisdom, enlightenment, experience and compassion. After your, albeit anonymous, post we're all better off. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Idiot.

    Numerous people having reviewed the case materials online (some were posted at this URL not long ago, I recall) believe that repremand or termination might be in order for Mr. Schwartz's "transgressions" but are aghast at the idea of criminal charges. (As an aside: why was Intel running Sun servers in the first place? Strikes me a bit like Bill Gates running OS/2 Warp [heaven forbid, RedHat 7.1] on his office PC).
    --

  • by Avenging Sloth 337 (117897) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:27PM (#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.
  • by Antaeus Feldspar (118374) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:09PM (#224756) Homepage

    ... is a betrayal and a cop-out.

    Let's face it. Good kids are going to screw up. What these zero-tolerance policies do is to remove from the authorities any power, responsibility, or incentive to distinguish between the hopeless, incorrigible fuck-up and the kid who stumbles.

    The kid committed suicide because he didn't want to go to jail. Does anyone doubt that there are school districts where he would have gone? I don't; not in the least. It's probably part of some district's "zero-tolerance" policy that was oh-so-popular with the voters, and it's still popular until some poor kid gets in trouble and kills themselves -- and even then, not a single person stops to think, "Gee, hey, maybe sometimes tolerance is a good thing."

  • by caprio (128745) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @08:41PM (#224774)
    This is an aside, but my college roomate my freshman year was from Japan. He told me horror stories about the suicide rate in Japan's schools. You think anything in this country is bad? It is nothing compared to the Japanese and their hardcore belief's about excelling.

    Why can't people just let kids be kids? Don't let them get away with a lot, but come one. And this doesn't stop with suicide. There are a lot of kids that get subjected to physical abuse from their parents for bad grades.

    IMHO, the American school system is going down the shit hole. Yuppie parents are coming in for every little thing that happens to little Johnny. They say nothing when he parties and goes out with a different girl every night. But let him get suspended, and they will be the first ones in the school, yelling about their son being singled out.

    My girlfriends Mother works for a middle school(K-6). There was a rumor that a guy was upset over losing a girl to another guy, so he was going to bring a gun and kill him. This was at the Jr. High(7-8). She was getting calls from parents of kids at the middle school, asking her what they were doing about the problem at the middle school. They were furious when she said they could do nothing because it wasn't even the same school. They wanted to go to the super in the district. The kid will most likly get suspended, and the shrinks will be brought in to comfort everyone else. How much emotional help do you think the kid with the gun will get?

    It is a shame. Those that need help will never get it because they are deemed "lost causes".

  • by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@NosPAM.elis.ugent.be> on Monday May 14, 2001 @03:13AM (#224794) Homepage
    I'm really curious what all those people who want to ban violent video games in response to the Columbine tragedy are going to say now... Are they going to ban all school punishment now as well? Or will they simply use this story as an argument to "show" that geeks are "mentally unstable"?

    Whatever the outcome, it's a very sad story...

    --

  • by clary (141424) on Monday May 14, 2001 @06:19AM (#224806)
    What's happened to all the positive forces in these kids lives? I'm not saying we should encourage "hacking" or any other type of malicious intent, but aren't these schools administrators, teachers, and workers professionals? Aren't they supposed to be pros in areas like child psychology?
    Before I go off on my tirade, let me say that I don't know enough about the school or situation in question to comment on the handling of this specific case. (Though on the face of it, it seems a bit of a stretch to blame a school for a suicide that totally blindsided even the parents.)

    Now back to my tirade...

    Parents, please smother your kids with positive forces!

    First, spend (quantity, not just quality) time with them yourself. You are the best expert on your child...much better than any so-called "professional." It does not take a PhD to give love and adult guidance. Use educators, medical doctors, religious counselors, etc. as you see fit, but always reserve ultimate responsibility and authority to yourself.

    Be very careful who you choose an an agent of your authority for educating your child. Investigate the public school in your area. Consider private school, or even home schooling. Whatever option you choose, stay involved. In the end, it is you who are responsible for your child.

  • by clary (141424) on Monday May 14, 2001 @08:50AM (#224807)
    First, even die-hard libertarians (I fancy myself in that category.) do not advocate putting the privilege and responsibility of complete liberty on the shoulders of children. We can disagree about the age of "adulthood," but assuming for the moment that it is above 13 in this boy's case, then I claim it is perfectly OK to intervene when he is about to make a permanent, life-altering (or ending) decision.

    I would go further in this case, and claim that there is a moral obligation to intervene, but that case is harder to make.

    Second, even when considering a sovereign adult, there a world of difference between persuasion and coercion. Certainly, one is morally permitted to try to dissuade someone from suicide.

    Again, the case is harder to make, but I claim we should try dissuade people from committing suicide in at least most cases. We should also try to help them address the problems in their lives that are causing them to consider suicide. If you subscribe to some form of "love your neighbor"-based moral code, then the argument for this case should be obvious. If not, then this would be a longer discussion than we have space for here.

  • by Pxtl (151020) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:01PM (#224823) Homepage
    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.
  • I don't know what assurances I can give you... I delieved "The Times" as a paperboy for a year and a half and I can tell you that it isn't always right on top of the news. This did happen about a week ago.

    I can also tell you that the crimes that he committed were serious. There are three different stories about what he did, they all involve him changing grades or selling administrator access. One has been verified by a teacher who I trust, that it the one that I told.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by AntiNorm (155641) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:30PM (#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!)
  • by OOG_THE_CAVEMAN (165540) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:13PM (#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.
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:48PM (#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).
  • Why should we do anything about it?


    This is an issue of personal responsibility. This is an issue of parently responsibility. This is an issue of right versus wrong, good versus evil.

    What happened here is tragic. Yes. Granted. Stipulated. Move along.

    Why is there this iron clad human need to fix all problems? Life doesn't contain a series of bugs that need to be patched, or vulnerbilities to be covered up. Life is full of nasty, horrible, ugly events.

    What happened here was a student broke the rules, was intimidated by a school offical, terrified by the penal system, and for whatever personal reason decided to hang himself.

    What could have stopped this? Anything? Perhaps not suspending him. Perhaps counseling. Perhaps more education, or perhaps nothing.

    And thats what really bothers people. Anti-Gun activists shout it, pro/anti abortion shout about it, pro/anti death penalty advocates shoud about it, but when it comes down to it, for a lot of things, nothing could have prevented this tradegy.

    It seems clear that the student took a calculated risk in his activities. He obviously must of had some type of notion of what the consequences might be, and he still did it. Granted, 13-yr olds arent that bright by their nature and age, and granted the school officals shouldn't have acted as they did, but can you suggest that any particular action would have prevented this?

    The facts are, that he hung himself. In most cases where a suicide occurs, its a matter of time. An event waiting to happen.

    So I guess my point is this: it is sad, lots of things compounded the tradegy, lots of mistakes may have been made - but make no mistake about it - he is dead today because he choose to take his life. I respect his decision, and though I disagree with it, I would not try to persaude him one or the other if he were alive and asking me for this advice.

    The ultimate test of love of democracy and personal responsibility is to allow someone else to make a permanetly bad choice. When I was younger, I made some bad choices in a similiar setting. I thought about just getting it over with like the young hacker here did, but I choose not to. I am glad I made the choice I did.

    I won't be suprised when this happens again. I won't be shocked. People who make bad choices often kill themselves. It happens, and it happens all the time. Sad, yes - but can we prevent it? Not without harming personal liberty and individual responsibility.
  • 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.


    --

  • by JCCyC (179760) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @08:31PM (#224890) Journal
    Come on. Thirteen year old kids are simply adults who sport an attitude. A thirteen year old kid knows what he or she is doing.

    Ah, it's nice to know you support giving 13 year olds the right to vote, drive and drink alcohol (not at the same time of course!).

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:45PM (#224894) Journal
    There is some basic contact info here
    (thoughtfully worded snailmail probably best)

    Grover Middle School
    10 Southfield Road
    Princeton, NJ 08550
    Principal: Steven Mayer

    But if you are in a rush, School Board email addresses and other info can be found here.

    http://www.wwptoday.com/schools/schools.html

    The district main website is at:

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

    they have a blurb about handling trauma, but noting about the suicide itself

    Please be careful to tread the original story, and cite the link as a source when you send email.

    Mind you also that some of the teachers may well be innocent bystanders, and already upset enough as it is.

    Be thoughtful and concerned in your reply, even if it is intensely emotional.

    The problem is a system, that, under thew appearance of help, tends to do those things that destroy, even if benign neglect. "We didn't see it coming" they say, but they are supposed to be the professionals. They are supposed to know.

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

  • 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.
  • by Eharley (214725) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:52PM (#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?
  • by s1r_m1xalot (218277) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:51PM (#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.
  • by zhensel (228891) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:44PM (#224978) Homepage Journal
    Having worked as a student aide with the IT department in my district I can say, very incompetent. Suffice to say, we have 3 t1 lines for a district of moderate size and the connection is slower than my 56k modem. It has been like this for the entire school year (they installed gigabit switches to speed up the network and this was a minor side-effect). When it comes to security, there are a ton of flaws as well. For example, I could log onto my account on a Windows NT machine and browse anyone else's network folder. No hacking required. When I clicked on someone else's folder by accident it said something on the order of "would you like to become the owner of this folder" and I said yes. There you have it, I had access. I told an administrator and she said, "oh yeah, we know about that." They then decide to "crack down" and delete any file over a certain size in anyone's folder. Obviously, given the mindset of many highschool kids, a majority of the stuff deleted was illegal. They also, however, deleted files of kids working on projects in the computer department, movies made by kids on 3d Studio in drafting, etc. When they found that a computer was sharing a massive amount of "illegal" material and also found a folder on the computer's c: drive with my name on it, they blamed me. Of course, the admins didn't actually ask me about it, they instead told my teacher to "clean up the computer" or some tripe like that. Suffice to say, people are still running their divx server on that computer and watching The Big Lebowski during Meteorology (hell, half of the teachers play along and watch with them - in fact I haven't seen a single objection to piracy outside of the network admins bitching about a bandwidth loss - a problem which, as I said, is just because of a stupid mistake in the first place).

    As far as more "constructive" punishments go - do those even exist? About the most "constructive" punishment I can imagine at our school is out-of-school suspension. I love punishing kids for skipping school by kicking them out of school for a few more days.
  • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:41PM (#224987) Homepage

    Hey, I bet this kid isn't going to break into any more computers! See, zero thought--er, tolerance works! Ashcroft is right!!

  • by spherex (251880) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:05PM (#225016)
    A student at my school committed suicide after he was caught using school computers to print racist materials from the Internet. Administration was kind enough to give him the option of being the one to tell his family and gave him several days to explain before they called to speak to his parents. This happened just before a weeklong vacation, at the end of which he hung himself in his garage with his family in the next room watching a video. There is absolute no way the school can be at fault for this. To think, as many did, that the school (or the school mentioned in this article) is responsible for pushing a student to kill themselves is simply wrong. Normal healthy kids don't kill themselves when they get in trouble, nor do they prefer death to imprisonment.
  • by jsse (254124) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:11PM (#225018) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Gruneun (261463) on Monday May 14, 2001 @06:20AM (#225030)
    "I really don't have any idea what was going on in his mind," said Rita Majumder, Shinjan's mother. "But they surely are to blame."

    Funny... my parents, knowing that suspension from school is the root of all the troubles in this world, just made sure I didn't do something to get myself suspended.

    Even giving this woman the opportunity to voice this opinion to a mass audience is irresponsible. She's upset, but she needs to take some responsibility. By not taking reponsibility for her actions, she also managed to pass that trait on to her child. Rather than dealing with his actions, he took what he saw as the easy way out.
  • by xkenny13 (309849) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:08PM (#225063) Homepage

    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.

  • by BinaryC (314673) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:22PM (#225069) Homepage
    > 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.
  • by Sparky9292 (320114) on Monday May 14, 2001 @10:26AM (#225076)
    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?


    I worked at a high school teaching AP Computer Science for six years.

    The IT guys that maintain the servers get paid around $15 an hour TOPS. Turnover is tremendous. Most applicants are fresh paper MCSE's that just want enough experience to get a real job that pays twice as much.

    This is for a large five high school, thirty elementary school district in north-west Phoenix, Arizona.

    I actually overhead one idiot IT guy brag to a bunch of AP students that his NT server was so bullet proof that it was unhackable. I NEVER say that to my students, in fact I tell them that there are problems in the network, and to know that if they want to hack, let me sit next to them and work with the IT department to help things.

    High school districts are swamped. Since they don't get the money they need, administrators have to make rash decisions like this based on suggestions from underpaid unhappy IT departments.

    If you want to make a difference, then vote for state legislators that will give more money for school districts. Otherwise, put your kids in private schools.

  • by Tachys (445363) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @06:25PM (#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?

  • by Richard_Alston (447886) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @11:25PM (#225123) Homepage
    We (the Rich and Powerful) DO NOT want you people equiping yourselves with skills to stay independant of us. Why do you think we spend so much money trying to keep you from doing just that?

    Don't go crying for this "criminal", either. He broke the law, just like you have, and luckily he was young and impressional enough that we were able to damage his psychie. Mark my words, give up your criminal activities before we advance this brain washing stuff to the point that we can get adults suicidal in minutes.
    Sen. Hon. Richard K R Alston
  • by GFish4 (449161) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:55PM (#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...
  • by thedanc (449477) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @05:59PM (#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.
  • by Greenrider (451799) on Sunday May 13, 2001 @07:16PM (#225145)
    This is not a flame, but an encouragement for everyone to look at things from a different angle.

    This was a kid who was heavily obsessed with "making the grade." Judging by the fact that he had Hindu parents, who are known for their demanding nature, and by his father's statement that "I worked so hard to bring up good children in a good school district", it seems clear that this child was mercilessly pushed by his parents to succeed at any cost.

    As someone else on the board mentioned, he was receiving C's and D's. He probably feared that his parents would regard him as a failure, and that he wouldn't be able to measure up to his brother. He took his own life because, as yet another person mentioned, he had a "screwed value system." He believed that reputation and skill were more important than life itself.

    Can we really blame the school administrators in this affair? They did what they should have done - they punished a student who had commited what most people would consider a serious crime. His parents, on the other hand, did not do what they should have done. They pushed him harder and harder to succeed, until all they had left was a body in the cemetary and a box of ribbons.

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