On Feeling Secure

kinnon —  November 25, 2006 — 3 Comments

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.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

3 responses to On Feeling Secure

  1. I now teach elementary school, but I used to teach high school – my rule in high school was – keep it on vibrate, and answer it between classes. Of course, I carried a phone too, and everyone knew it. Sometimes I even forgot and it rang in class – at which point I would start singing with it! (I teach music) The ringer was set on Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Mozart (I hope I spelt that right)

    I can understand the teacher’s frustration – but I agree that taking it away for more than the duration of the class is not appropriate. The detention sounds more accurate – or better yet, an essay on the etticutte of phone usage in school or at a place of work!

    Do elementary kids have phones? Yes, they do. I tell them the same thing – keep it on vibrate. When I hear their ringtone – I sing the lyrics.

    They don’t like that. Maybe it’s because I sing loud enough for the office to hear…..

  2. Or, hmmm, perhaps just showing some grace for simple forgetfulness. If the teachers are really that passionate about cell phones going off, they should do what everyone else is doing these days and issue a short reminder before they get started. Did that happen in this instance?

    I can understand the need to keep from disrupting the class, but confiscating the phone just seems way, way over the top. My little girls are both too young to have their own phones yet, but I like the security that they can provide, as you illustrated so well. I think that I would have been just as angry as you were.


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Leading Questions - November 25, 2006

    Some things matter more than admistrative policy

    Bill Kinnon is one of my favorite bloggers. I look forward to reading him everyday. He has a unique perspective and voice. The voice came out particularly today as he about his daughter and her cell phone. Read On Feeling

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