Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We want to 'search kids' phones for signs of bullying,' school principals say.

School principals (well, some of them) are asking for the right to search student cell phones for evidence re cyber-bullying. We all know that young people and others are using this medium for some pretty nasty activity, some of which has led to deaths after young people take that sad step. Whilst I applaud any effort and the discussions around trying to address this very real problem, I think the suggestion is a bit like trying to catch the horse once it has escaped from the barn.
Yes, we have a terrible problem, world-wide, but the very idea of seizing searching the phones of our youth has so many hooks in it that it is doomed to failure and will not address the underlying problem around bullying in general that besets society. If school think that teenagers cannot find a way around any moves that ‘adults’ impose on them around the use of such devises (and God knows what’s around the corner re cell phones and their like) the they are deluding themselves. There is also the question, the perennial one about the rights of schools to ‘search and seize.’ The lawyers are going to have a field day and they will be the only ones to gain from such ill-conceived actions.
Schools do need to be at the forefront in the battle against bullying but they need to be realistic about what it is they are trying to achieve and how they do it. They cannot operate in a vacuum re bullying and unless the parents, police and society on general are aboard re any moves to combat this problem, then they are doomed to failure.
It is pretty obvious that despite large amounts of money being poured into the problem of bullying in all of its forms, that we have made little progress. Many ‘new’ programmes have been introduced into schools, right though the levels, but the ‘beast remains’ to destroy the lives of so many young people, who the  go on to either work things out for themselves or take more sinister moves later in their lives.
There has been some success in many schools, ones that have come about because the schools have engaged with their young people, but the efforts need to be doubled and then increased yet more. Staying up with the play means that vast amounts of resources re employing counsellors, youth workers and other support staff, along with working on school-wide programmes that involve the community, are the way to go. Unless we are ‘all’ involved,’ any knee jerk reaction is just that---a futile attempt to play catch-up. Sorry, Principals and others who espouse such actions as seizing the phones of young people---too little, off the mark and not thought through!