June 26, 2007

What on Earth isn't a "potentially offensive weapon"!?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6241108.stm

I've just come across this article on BBC News saying that a teaching union is calling for mobile phones to be classed as potentially offensive weapons because of the way pupils misused them to bully their teachers. Personally I think that's just stupid...

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the pupils should be bullying teachers; it's what They're doing to stop it that I think is stupid.

Firstly the article isn't very forthcoming on how the phones are being used; are pupils literally beating the teachers with the handsets? are the pupils finding the teachers' home numbers and breathing heavily? are the pupils photographing/filming the teachers doing normal things and then uploading them to the Internet? are the pupils photographing/filming others attacking the teachers in some manner and then uploading them to the Internet? or is it something else, or a combination?

Without knowing how the phones are being used, it's very difficult to see this classification as rational and sensible.

For instance, if the mobile phones are being used as blunt instruments, then other "potentially offensive weapons" which should be banned from schools include:

  • Chairs
  • Sharp pencils
  • Calculators (particularly the larger graphical variety)
  • Sturdy rulers
  • Thick text books
  • Shoes
  • Ties (not so much beating, more strangling...)
  • Compasses
  • Set squares
  • Paper (paper cuts can be nasty...)

On the other hand, if it's the mobiles' ability to function as telephones that's being used, then the students should be forbidden to the their home landlines and the teachers/school should be more careful about data protection.

If the teachers are being photographed/filmed going about their school day and this is being used to mock them (or whatever) online, then classifying "mobile phones" as offensive weapons is completely irrational; it's "camera phones" that need to be banned; the normal mobile phone is an incredibly useful tool which it would be unfair to ban; there were a lot of times when I was still at school when it would have been much harder to conjure up a lift home at odd times of the day (such as if the school had to be closed for the day for some reason) without a mobile.

And if films of teachers being abused are being made, then stop the brats from beating their teachers! If this is happening at your school, then the problem's worse than mobile phones, I'm afraid...

Anyway, you can't just ban camera phones; you'd have to ban cameras too. Come to think of it, why not just ban cameras if this is the problem? You'd ban only the relevant phones and also normal cameras too, all with only one ban; much less paperwork.

To sum up: I am not saying it is right that teachers are being abused (it is wrong); the BBC needs to give more details in its news articles; and the people who are up in arms need to step back for a moment and think about the problem as rational non-technophobes and think if maybe there is a better solution or perhaps a bigger problem...


- One comment

  1. J

    It is also interesting to think what the teachers must be doing which warrents “cyberbullying” if it is shown to others. It begs the question of whether or not it is the teachers fault for providing the footage, it is not as if what happens in a classroom should be kept classified.

    13 Jun 2008, 12:32


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