Do schools have a right to take away and tamper with kids' cell phones?
When we worry about the potential bullies our kids might deal with at school, we always picture those bullies as other kids ... right? Except sometimes -- probably more often than any of us care to realize, actually -- those bullies are adults: Teachers and other faculty members; the very people we trust to protect our kids from bullying. And usually, grown-up bullies push kids around not with mean text messages or actual physical shoves, but by abusing their authority. By taking things that don't belong to them and giving them back damaged or altered, if at all. Which is exactly what happened recently at one Oregon middle school.
It all started with a "confrontation" between one student who apparently refused to remove his hat in the school gym and two teachers who, well, were hell bent on getting him to remove that hat.
As the "altercation" escalated, with the teachers "circling" the boy and "trying to escort him from the gym," other students nearby pulled out their cell phones and started filming, because, duh!! What else do you expect them to do under these circumstances?!
Anyway, the stubborn hat-wearer was eventually suspended and arrested for disorderly conduct, but this story isn't really about him. It's about those kids who filmed the whole mess -- only to be approached, moments later, by faculty members who confiscated their phones, saying only “I’m going to have to hold on to this for a while," by way of explanation. Except they didn't just "hold on" to the phones -- they deleted each and every video of the incident recorded by students. 13-year-old Khloey Summers says that by the time she got her phone back, her messaging apps and photos had also been opened. Khloey's mother, Melissa Siegel, is furious, as are several other parents. Says Siegel: “Clearly, I don’t feel like my daughter did anything wrong. I feel like her rights are violated, by going through her phone and text messages.”
Siegel is right!! Her daughter's rights WERE violated!! And as the mother of a 12-year-old whose school has a habit of confiscating kids' cell phones -- kids' very expensive and also pretty goddamn useful in this modern life cell phones -- and then "misplacing" them for weeks at a time, this story REALLY PISSES ME OFF. Here's what I would like to say to the teachers at that Oregon middle school -- to any teacher who thinks it's okay to take away a kid's cell phone for an undetermined length of time, let alone tamper with it -- my KID didn't buy herself that frigging thing; I BOUGHT IT FOR HER! Obviously. So give it back ... to ME! Look, I understand taking away a kid's phone for the duration of a school day if it's truly a disruption, but you better return it -- in the exact same condition -- the second the bell rings.
Do you think schools have a right to take away and tamper with kids' cell phones?