Administrator tackles school-issued computer safety after teen goes missing

Administrator tackles school-issued computer safety after teen goes missing

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - An administrator tackled questions surrounding the safety of school-issued computers after a missing teen used hers to chat online with a man in a sexual manner.

Jonesboro Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kim Wilbanks discussed the multiple safety measures in place on the district's laptops on Tuesday, three days after the girl went missing.

"When a student is on campus, we have multiple measures in place," Dr. Wilbanks said. "We have three layers. We install software on their computer that protects them and keeps them from some sites. We have other software that is installed at the firewall, and then we actually have a firewall. What that does, is it keeps a student from going to sites with adult content that would be inappropriate for a student."

While on campus, the computer blocks access to social media sites.

The question swarming around is how did the teen gain access to a site that led her to the man who groomed her for sexual things.

"Our students all signed a computer-use agreement where they agree they will not use the computer inappropriately," Wilbanks said. "Their parents signed that. That says you understand that you are going to have to take some responsibility when your students are at home, but we all know kids are savvy and they don't often disclose everything with their parents."

Those restrictions are limited outside of school grounds. Wilbanks said with the filters that prohibit students from using social media on campus, she believes the activity did not take place on campus.

"Parents have the same challenge," she said. "It's a frightening world that we live in that children have access to individuals all over the world. Unfortunately, we can't keep them from harm sometimes, or from making poor decisions."

Dr. Wilbanks said the district has had the conversation about if there are any other ways or more the school could do to make the internet safer.

"Unfortunately, even if we took away the ability to access any social media on a school computer, most of our students have a phone with media access," Wilbanks said. "I'm just not sure that other than making sure as a parent and making sure as a school that we highly supervise and make sure we are aware of what's going on, we are just kind of at a loss at what more we can do."

Inside the computer-use agreement packet given to students is a list of many things, including an internet safety policy and consequences of inappropriate use.

Wilbanks said both students and parents have access to the school-issued computers.

The district is behind the missing girl's family and praying for the teen's safe return.

"We just have to hope for the very best outcome possible," Wilbanks said. "This is such a very unfortunate situation. We've encouraged our students, even if they feel like it's of no help, please disclose that information if you have it. We want to help bring her back, bring her back safe."

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.