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Phone pouches only push ‘pause’ on growing problem

Saijleen Chawla

Saijleen Chawla

Cell phones and other technological devices that cause distractions are placed in pouches such as this one in most classrooms. Phone pouches such as these may decrease a significant classroom distraction, but do nothing to prevent antisocial behaviors when an authoritative person is not present.

Saijleen Chawla, Starr's Mill High School

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When students enter each classroom, they put their phones in a designated red phone pouch labeled with an assigned number. Many teachers take attendance with the phone count, and it has successfully controlled the issue of distraction in class.

Lately, security of cell phones has been tightened due to recent events where students used their technology for antisocial behaviors on the internet, namely cyberbullying. Though cyberbullying is an issue that must be solved, extra phone hawking isn’t the right tactic.

Cyberbullying is an issue of behavior and the need to feel power over another person similar to the action of bullying off the internet. What is different is how it can possibly follow the victim everywhere he or she goes, leaving the victim feeling more trapped and helpless.

When the cell phones and their temptation is placed across the room, the action stops, though the behavior does not. Security on the phone pouches only places a temporary pause on the cyberbullies. It cannot cause an intervention of the bully’s need to harass a fellow classmate.

The phone pouches have eliminated a potential distraction from class time. “I’ve had teachers come to see me personally to thank me for the pouches,” Principal Allen Leonard said. It does not, however, eliminate a danger to the safety of Starr’s Mill students.

The only thing that will help alleviate the problem of cyberbullying is through awareness. Cell phones are not the problem that causes cyberbullying, yet using pouches make them the scapegoat. To stop cyberbullying is to stop the students from engaging in activities online with malicious intent willingly. After all, where are these phone pouches in the hallways between classes and lunch?

Restricting the use of cell phones without giving a good reason is an easy way to avoid a problem instead of facing it and fighting. When the rule was first put in place, most of my teachers didn’t explain why. It was pitched as a new regulation, and teachers might get into trouble themselves by not enforcing the cell phone pouches.

“It is helpful for the people who need the extra monitoring,” U.S. History teacher Jason Flowers said.

This simply encourages the refusal to use the pouches by many students. “I don’t use the pouches because whatever happened wasn’t me. I can control myself just fine,” junior Serena Hardy said. She, like other students, are frustrated by the possibility of being sent to the office because simple possession of a cell phone.

“Before this, when I caught [my students] with their phones, I would take it up and they would get it at the end of class. Now it is a straight office referral,” Spanish teacher Marcela Sample said.

But most people do not need the extra monitoring that recent events have caused. Cyberbullying is a difficult action to curb, but using the phone pouches do not solve the problem. Instead of restricting the students, they should be taught how to use their technology and privileges wisely, for once they graduate from high school the intended safety of the pouches disappears.

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