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Students receive inappropriate video on devices via AirDrop

The video was transferred to Apple devices. So far, there are no suspects.

LOWELL, N.C. — Students at a Holbrook Middle School in Lowell were sent an inappropriate video without their consent, police said.

The video was transferred to Apple devices using the AirDrop function. We’re told multiple students received the footage.

Gaston County Police were assisting Lowell Police in the investigation, and the school district was being cooperative, but there were no suspects as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

On Wednesday, police said they were able to determine the video involved an adult. Prior to this discovery, police said a student had been accused of being involved and became a target of "extreme bullying." Police were also investigating those incidents.

There are headlines across the country depicting harassment, bullying, school threats and sexual pictures sent anonymously using AirDrop.

Students use it for homework, assignments, and group projects. However, like any technology, it can be abused.

In Lowell, middle school students were unknowingly targeted as recipients of an inappropriate video. In other cases around the country, we’ve seen AirDrop used for school threats, including pictures of guns.

When used inappropriately or illegally, AirDrops are difficult to trace back to the original source. All you need is a WiFi or Bluetooth connection and close proximity to the recipient. 

However, there are ways to protect yourself or your kids:

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on General
  • Find AirDrop
  • Choose Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone

Parents can also permanently turn AirDrop off on their kids’ phones:

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on Screen Time
  • Select Content & Privacy Restrictions then Allowed Apps
  • Toggle AirDrop off

You can even set a passcode so that your kids won’t be able to make any changes without the password.

Gaston County Police Captain Billy Downey said the incident has created major problems in the community.

"We want to stop this. We want to cut this off," Capt. Downey said. "We want to help restore the victim's integrity and self-esteem because they've been targeted, and they weren't even involved."

Rickey Thomas has two kids at Holbrook.

"That's why my children don't have cell phones right now," Thomas said. "These cell phones cause a lot of issues and the focus here should be learning."

Kenneth Brock also has a child at the school.

"We've just to guide them through all this," Brock said. "Help them understand what's real and what isn't; what's important and what's not important."

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