There are articles all over the web right now talking about Houston's ban on "sexting". Basically Houston is trying to combat really inappropriate pictures and videos of students being sent through their airwaves at school. I picked up on it at detentionslip.org, where the author made a really good point- why are we not taking action on the use of the cell phones in schools, rather than one thing the students are able to do with them.
Cell phone use was a huge problem in our school last year. Suspensions sky-rocketed because of them. Students would be on their phones in class and would be asked to turn them over as per New York City's Chancellor's Regulations, which forbid electronics in school except for students with medical conditions. When students refused to turn them over they were suspended, plain and simple. The long and short of it: it is IMPOSSIBLE to teach a student if they are chatting on their cell phone during class. It is also IMPOSSIBLE to teach a student if they are suspended every other day because of they use a phone in class. What is more is that calling parents is completely fruitless, as students being suspended are often-times using friends' cell phones. The response from the parents when their students are suspended is: "my student doesn't even have a phone." Solution: ban cell phones from the school.
Now, some parents complain that they need to be able to reach their student at any given time in case of emergencies. This has beenappealed to the New York Supreme Court several times. In one case the defendant claimed that cell phone usage was the only thing that saved her daughter from a stalker after school. Other cases seem to concentrate on what happens after school rather than during school. Solution: Instead of banning phones outright, have students check there cell phones in at the beginning of the day and give them back at the end of the day. Recommendations by parents revolve around "punishments" being delved out to repeat cell-phone abusers or they point to cell phone policies at schools like Bronx Science (one of the best high schools in the city, full of academically prone, self-motivated students) as examples of why having a rule against cell use in the classroom is completely adequate. If there is some kind of an emergency during the school day, I'm pretty sure most schools are equipped with phones these days. In fact, most classrooms have them. Students simply do not need their phones in class, nor any other time during school.
At the end of the year last year, most teachers agreed that it is incredibly necessary to have students check in phones if are to get anything done. When it comes to "sexting" in class, we certainly don't want any more of that either. Last year while a sub was in a sixth grade classroom, a girl filmed herself grinding on a male classmate and posted it to the web. Bing, bang, boom- just like that. Had the phones been taken at the door, it wouldn't have happened.
As for inappropriate use of cell phones in general, I believe that if parents aren't going to teach their children how to use the things the kids shouldn't have one. If it's generally accepted at this point that the internet can be a dangerous place for children given no direction, why in WORLD would you give your child access to it 24/7 without any supervision? Personally, I don't feel it's my job to patrol what a child does on their cell phone during school hours. When it comes down to it, any court will say that's an invasion of privacy. If students are doing inappropriate things under our watch, however, we are liable. This is why we restrict websites and access to inappropriate materials in schools. If parents are going to just hand over access to their children anyway, what are we trying to protect them from?
How do other schools approach the cell phone issue?
Today's Wine: Charles Shaw Cabernet