Two inappropriate emails sparked outrage and fears of cyberbullying in Ipswich, Mass. this week. The emails were sent to many of Ipswich High School's male juniors and listed 22 female students who didn't have prom dates -- along with comments about their interests, sizes and dating experience.
The email initially appeared to be from junior class officers, but Ipswich school officials say they weren't the ones responsible. Rather, the sender obtained students' email addresses through a Facebook account set up by the officers related to next month's prom, reports The Salem News.
The first email named the girls and detailed their hobbies and sizes; the second assessed the girls' dating experience using a system of asterisks: One for girls who had "never been kissed,'' two for girls who had "had a couple of good relationships'' and three for girls who wore "yoga pants, belly rings, low-cut shirts every day.''
While students' reactions to the emails were mixed, the school took them seriously -- principal Barry Cahill spoke to the student body, warning them not to copy, duplicate or post the emails, and sent a message to parents condemning the emails.
"It's unfair," Cahill told WHDH 7News. "It puts students who don't belong in that situation... in a light that they didn't ask to be put in."
Shawn Smith, an Ipswich police officer assigned to the school, told The Boston Globe that because the email didn't violate state law, it's unlikely criminal charges will be filed. But Cahill said that the school will consider suspending or expelling the sender if police determine it was a student. Ipswich police plan to subpoena the email provider to try to identify who wrote the emails.
Cahill also said he plans to review the school district's anti-bullying policy to determine whether the email constitutes bullying. The Ipswich bullying policy defines bullying as the "act of one or more individuals intimidating one or more persons through verbal, physical, mental, or written interactions, including through electronic means via the Internet or cell phone networks.'' It was adopted in accordance with Massachusetts' 2010 anti-bullying act.
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