Hillary Chybinski: Cell Phones, School and Safety

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cell Phones, School and Safety

The "right" age to get your child their first cell phone is a big parental debate these days. There is such a slippery slope of meanness and bad choices that can be made with a cell phone. Texting, cameras, and internet access add to the confusion.  

Most Elementary Schools, Middle Schools and High Schools have strict rules about cell phones being put away. Our Elementary School and Middle School prohibit students from keeping phones in their pockets. . .the phones must be kept locked away in the student's locker. Some parents however, seek a more liberal cell phone policy in the name of safety.

I understand the distractions, potential to cheat, bad behavior and all the other arguments . . .but let's talk about safety for a minute.  Is the concern over safety warranted? If something happens at school. . .who is most likely to be around? Students. Are they clever enough to act fast and act appropriately? Perhaps.

What if a child pulls a weapon out of his pocket - there are 7 kids standing around. (tick tock) He's threatening one of the other kids. (tick tock) Will one of the 6 other kids run to a teacher or be frozen scared? (tick tock) Let's say one breaks from the group and runs to the nearest classroom. (tick tock)  No teacher in that classroom. (tick tock)  Another classroom has a teacher.  The student tells about student with the weapon and his threats. (tick tock) Does the teacher call 911 right away? (tick tock)

If the kids had their cell phones in their pockets, could one of them have called 911 way back when the student first pulled out the weapon? Maybe. But at what cost to overall safety? Would panicked parents flock to the school, preventing emergency personnel from gaining access? Could communication systems be overloaded?  Perhaps.

There are no "sure things". . .but precious moments can make all the difference in the world. I am not advocating for students bringing cellphones to class, I am just pondering the precious moments that could be lost if they are locked away.  What's the answer?

School Districts are combating push-back from students and parents that want more liberal cell phone policies, by strengthening their emergency response and crisis management communication plans.  The important part of that strengthening is then communicating the plan to the school community.  Everyone needs to be aware for the system to work properly and for parents and students to trust it will work as designed.

If you take safety out of the equation. . .does a child have a need for a cell phone during school hours?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic.

catch you soon - 

1 comment:

  1. Great topic, Hillary! I think there is an issue also with training the school personnel to respond to crisis. I'd prefer that the adults be the ones making judgment calls about crises rather than the children as a general rule. And I would also fear that my child pulling out a phone in a room with a child holding a loaded gun would put her at greater risk than not having a phone. At that point, is the child with the gun prepared to shoot anyone who gets in their way?

    I would question the wisdom of cell phones in elementary but we got our daughter her first phone halfway through sixth grade which is middle school here. Kids are allowed to have their phones with them but if they ring or ding or get caught looking at them during class, they are taken away.

    Great topic ... and lots to consider.