Cyberbullying and “sexting” are becoming more common. As the average age of cell phone users drops down closer to grade school level, the schools are trying to take action. (See my blog Cyberbullying is a growing concern.) But just how far should the schools be able to go in their quest to protect students? Is searching cell phones a viable option?
Should schools be able to search student cell phones?
More and more parents are raising questions about school searches. Elizabeth K. Englander, a professor of psychology and the founder and director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State College, has been answering questions about schools searching cell phones. Dr. Englander doesn’t address the legal issues involving such searches, but maintains that schools are already taking on the role of parenting students while under their supervision. She feels searching the cell phones is the school’s obligation. She sites this example:
“Imagine a scenario in which a child had taken a topless photo of a 12-year-old girl, and a third child reports this fact to a school administrator. If the administrator chooses to do nothing, then the child in the photo can be (and probably will be) readily exposed on the Internet, which could jeopardize her personal safety. That safety, when balanced against the offending child’s right to privacy on his or her cell phone, would probably be seen as more important by many people.”
Do schools have the right to search student cell phones? With the growing concern about sexting and Cyberbullying, (See my blog Teen Sexting… a whole new way flirting?) do you think schools should be able to search a student’s phone for improper texting or bullying? What about the photos taken on the phone? Does searching student cells phone violate a major privacy issue?
I think students should check their cell phones at the door. Cell phones don’t have a place in schools. That being said, I realize it would be impossible to enforce. They have enough trouble just getting the students to stop texting in class. Searching the phones? I think it should be addressed on an individual basis, depending on the reported violation. As always, I am concerned with too much “Big Brother” control. So what’s your take?