Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ban phones, encourage bullies?

My daughter's school ban the kids from taking mobile phones into the school, it seems.

This may seem sensible to some. It seems a tad harsh to me. I am not even sure of the legality of it (or more importantly the legality of any enforcement actions such as confiscating phones), but that is a separate matter.

The problem is that all the kids take phones in to school - teenagers will. They keep them off/silent in class, etc, and occasionally they are confiscated and later returned. The school clearly know this happens so it seems silly having a ban.

The problem is that bullies can steal phones, break phones (see picture) and do what they like to phones and the owner feels they are unable to report it for fear of getting detention for breaking the school rules.

Seems a somewhat unintended side effect!

The problem has parallels in more normal life. Making something illegal does not stop it, but makes it impossible to police properly or for people who are mistreated to come forward.

[P.S. yes this will mean Sonim number 5 for her]

17 comments:

  1. Hit the bullies with the bashed Sonim? Might work :)

    Or maybe Sonim on a Stick? :)

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  2. I don't have kids, but, I'm all for kids taking their phones to school. if something was to happen to your daughter at school, or on the way home, I think there would be a piece of mind that she would be able to contact you. Ban on these things is ridiculous. sure, confiscate them if they go off in class, but outside that I honestly see no point. I hope you'll be having words with the school regarding this one. :-)

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  3. Rather than talking to the school directly I suggest you speak to a school governor or two. Check the list to find governors with pupils at the school, ideally some you know, as they're more likely to see the parent's side. Then they can lobby for a change of policy at a governors meeting.

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  4. Why not just follow the school rules and don't take phones? The school will tell you that this kind of damage to high-value portable equipment is one of the main reasons they don't want it brought in.

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  5. I'm probably the lone dissenting voice here but the school has rules - which is no doubt enshrined in a disciplinary code.

    If you as a pupil break it in another way for example by assaulting another pupil - you get punished. How is taking a phone any different? The school is attempting to protect it's own ass by saying "no phones" so then nobody can have their phone nicked/broken/abused.

    If you choose to break the rules, you are opting to accept the consequences. No different to driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone, the fact that lots of other people are doing it is absolutely no defence.

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  6. Well, yes, there is that. But the point is the kids ignore it, and they then find themselves stuck with problems they cannot report. It is an unintended side effect of an ineffectual rule.

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  7. Schools do this intentionally to avoid any liability for whatever fate befalls the expensive phones pupils carry. They generally operate a "don't ask, don't tell policy" - meaning they don't actually care if pupils have a phone as long as it is silent and out of sight. There are also issues with phone cameras and changing rooms etc.

    However any decent school would most likely respond to the above incident with a gentle telling off about the phone, and a less comfortable outcome for the bully.

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  8. Then discipline in the school has broken down, that discipline starts at home and you are as guilty as all the other parents that let their offspring flaunt the rule.

    Too many parents are too quick to say "the schools should/shouldn't do XYZ" and then do the oppostite then moan when there are "out of control chavs" irritating them.

    If there's an incident of bullying/theft/assault that is way more important than the idea of taking prohibited items into school - that's not to say it's carte-blanche to do so though, so should be no barrier to reporting the issue.

    Sure the person carrying the contraband item, your wrists might be metaphorically slapped, but by allowing your child to take her phone in to school you are as much at fault as anyone in this.

    Parents and schools are in this together - too many forget that. I say this as a parent and as one caught (once) with contraband at school - punished once at school and again at home for flaunting the rules.

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  9. Interesting view points - but if I did not "allow her to take the phone", she would anyway and then would not tell me about the incident either. That would not help in the long run.

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  10. Then make sure you are in possession of the phone before she leaves for school.

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  11. "... That would not help in the long run"

    I disagree - there's an important lesson here, which is if you want to break the rules, then you can't necessarily look for outside help with the outcome. Particularly not from the very people whose rules you're breaking.

    It's a perfectly reasonable notion that a school is an unsuitable place in which to have several hundred grand's-worth of portable electronics floating around under the 'care' of a bunch of kids. Lots of school rules are based on the realisation that children don't behave as sensibly as adults do (that being one of the defining differences between the two).

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  12. I appreciate many people saying "it is a rule, follow it" in essence, but that is slightly missing the point.

    It does not matter if it is a rule not to take phones in to school or a law banning selling alcohol in some US states! The issue is that any rule which people do not want to follow will not be followed. People will break the rule. If I stopped my daughter taking her phone I bet she would still do it, or take one of the spare phones or a PAYG I don't know about.

    In practice, like some other parents, I would rather she did take her phone. Not flaunting it and getting it nicked, and not using it in class obviously, but so she can contact me easily or call 999 if needs be.

    The rule itself is broken in several ways.
    1. It is hard to detect and enforce without searching the kids bags (bad!)
    2. It is something some kids want (i.e. they want their phones with them)
    3. It is something some parents want

    What is also unclear is why the rule...

    Is it to stop disruption in class? If so make a rule against anything that causes disruption in class "e.g. mobile phones". That is easy to police but allows the kids to have phones, just not switched on in class.

    Is it to stop kids having anything valuable in school? If so make that the rule. Right now my daughter could have a fountain pen or a watch that is worth more than a mobile phone. Even so, how do you assess value for such a rule and how do you detect or police it without searching bags?

    A rule against valuables, so as to stop other kids stealing or breaking them, sounds sensible at first glance. But it changes a problem from one that can be reported and dealt with, to one that cannot, so making it actually worse for the kids and better for the bullies.

    Laws and rules are tricky things to get right.

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  13. Also, as to "value" for purposes of damage like this case, there is no issue. The phone has an unconditional guarantee. In a couple of days we'll have a brand new one free of charge.

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  14. If there's bullying going on in school and you know about it you should be reporting it to the school.

    What punishment do they give for taking a phone into school? Confiscation, returned at the end of the day? Detention? - Suck it up and report the bullying - it's more important to irradiate that.

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  15. They used to have similar rules in hospitals.. I couldn't even have so much as a tape player (it was a while ago) for 'insurance' purposes.

    They've got over it since though - I had my laptop with me last time around. Just had to agree if it got broke the hospital wasn't liable. Still some silly rules though.. The 3G dongle was fine, but the phone was forbidden (even though the doctors carried them).

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  16. Agreed that the bullying should be reported and any punishment for taking the phone should be sucked up.
    However the comments about the Rev to "not allow her to take the phone" misses the point that she is a teenager... Is it not their raison d'etre to rebel? I know I certainly did not necessarily do what my parents told me to do - and quite often the opposite when they were not around - when I was 14 to 16.

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