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Acceptable Use Of Cell Phones In Schools

Cell phone use in schools has dramatically changed since 911. When I started out as an administrator pagers were forbidden in school because they were associated with drug trafficking. If a student didnít want to turn over their pager it was considered a fourth degree disorderly conduct offense, and the principal could file a police report. I donít believe that it is a state policy that cell phones should be confiscated if they are in plain view in school. Each district probably does have their own policy on cell phones which varies from town to town and state to state. I think what we are looking for here is what we do with the distraction of cell phone use in school? Because of the hoards of recent school shooting that everyone knows about, and the fear of terrorism many parents feel more comfortable sending their child to school with a cell phone so they can get in touch with them when they want to, and in the event of a school emergency. The problems that schools run into is the blatant use of cell phones in school during class time and the disrespectful attitudes that students have when the teacher attempts to confiscate the phone. I have been through this nightmare, so let me see if I can shed some light on this for you.

90% of students are going to bring a cell phone to school. Even in the elementary grades students come to school with a cell phone. Both of my daughterís carry a cell phone with them all the time. The cell phones are turned off and they are never to be used in the school building during school hours. Do I ever call my oldest daughter during the school day? The answer is no. Would I call her if I knew the school was going through a crisis situation? The answer is yes. If we know that kids have cell phones on them our request should be to keep them off during school hours and keep them out of sight. As a principal I am not going to go through the process of frisking kids to see if they have a cell phone. To me itís out of sight, out of mind.

If I was to be walking down the hall and find a student talking on a cell phone and there were other students around I would ask to see the student privately and confiscate the phone. My comment to him would be, ďGive me the phone, and I will return it to you at the end of the day.Ē The biggest concern that kids have is not getting the cell phone back. I make them aware that I will return the phone. I donít want their phone or the responsibility that goes with it. By the time the student comes to my office to pick up the phone I will have already called the parent and made them aware of the infraction and asked them to please talk to their child about the blatant use of a cell phone. If I couldnít get in touch with the parent I would call until I did. When the student came down to the office to pick up the phone I would give him his phone back. My goal is to remove the phone from the mainstream of the school until the end of the day, not to take a studentís property and hang on to it until a parent comes in.

Cell phone use is not going to go away. We need to have policies that address acceptable use of cell phones in school, not forbid the use of them. By forbidding students to have a cell phone in their possession we will only be creating a rule that we canít enforce.

Submitted by:

James Burns

Jim Burns is one of Americaís most inspirational educational speakers. His humorous and insightful presentations touch and influence his audiences in an unforgettable way. He is best known for his presentations on Bullying, Motivating Disaffected Students, Diffusing Power Struggles,& CharacterEd. For more about Jim Burns http://behavioral-management.com/




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