Jackie’s post that I refer to below impacted me on a number of levels. A few weeks ago, my oldest child, Liam, was confronted with drunken teenagers after leaving the cinema – for no apparent reason, they wanted to fight Liam and his friend, Dave. His story caused me great concern. Liam had the presence of mind to not respond physically and to call the police.
This week my beautiful 15 year old daughter had her cell phone taken away from her. By her teacher. Because it went off in class. He told her they normally took them away for a week. He’d only keep it for 24 hours.
She’d forgotten to put the phone on vibrate. It went off when one of the men in her life called her at 3:15 pm…her father. I wrongly assumed her phone was on vibrate and she’d see I had called (call display) and call me back. I was close to downtown and was going to offer her a ride home. I called again at 3:35 (forgetting her classes ended at 3:45) and this time a man answered. I was both a little shocked and a little freaked out. He brusquely informed me that he was Kaili’s teacher and he had taken the phone from her. I apologized for my intrusion – although why the phone wasn’t shut off after he removed it from Kaili after my first call, is beyond me. I wrongly assumed he would return the phone to Kai after class.
Kaili called me from a school phone around 4 pm. I was almost home at this point. She told me she would not get her phone back until the next day. I responded with surprise and anger. We have provided cell phones to our three kids for two primary reasons. First, that we can be in touch with them as necessary. And secondly, that they have the ability to contact 911 in the event of an emergency – as Liam did in the situation he found himself in.
I called the school back after Kaili hung up and ended up waiting to speak to the school Vice-Principal. When she came on the line, I strongly stated how frustrated and angry I was by the school’s actions. I explained the reasons we have provided our children with cell phones. I further stated that I understood the problem of phone’s going off in class – and perhaps a detention might be more appropriate, if they felt that Kaili’s actions warranted punishment. I also said that had the school removed the phone from Kaili for a week, I would have reported it to the police as theft.
The VP was polite and understanding. She told me that she too had provided phones for her kids and understood my frustration. She also said that the school had no hard and fast rules regarding cell phone intrusions (other than they weren’t to happen) and that the teacher in question had left for the day – so Kai wouldn’t be getting her phone back. I wasn’t impressed with this and told her that in the unlikely event that anything happened to Kai on the way home, I would hold the school responsible. She was a little shocked. (And in fairness, had I really feared for Kaili’s safety, I should have turned around and gone back to pick her up.) She told me that my call would prompt a more reasoned response to class interruptions from cell phones and that Kai would have her phone back the next day.
Kaili leaves quite early in the morning for school. She spends almost two hours a day using public transportation on surface routes to get there and back. We are normally in touch with her during that time. The phone is part of her security. The removal of the phone from her (for her first infraction and from a student that the VP told me was exceptional) was just stupid. The school liability issues alone should stop this practice.
But the larger issue is the sense of security. We (the Kinnons) are city people. We aren’t leaving anytime soon. How do we protect ourselves in the situations that arise – like that of Liam’s or that of Jackie Danicki’s? It’s a question that causes me concern and one I find myself seriously pondering right now.