Jan 19, 2011 Kelly Cary Uncategorized
School Resource Officers Martin Knaul and Christine Weeks would like to remind students and parents of the Baldwinsville Central School District’s cell phone policy, as stipulated in the district’s Code of Conduct. The policy states, “Students may not possess cell phones at school during the school day.” They must be in students’ lockers while school is in session.
There are several reasons for this policy. Officer Weeks explained that cell phones can be used for activities that disrupt learning and compromise student and staff safety, including cheating, photographing and filming planned fights, and taking and disseminating inappropriate photos. In order to maintain a respectful and safe environment that is conducive to learning, the district wants to remove the possibility of abuses of this nature during school hours. Because student cell phone use cannot be easily monitored by staff members, banning cell phones from school while classes are in session reduces these abuses.
Officer Knaul noted that there are students in the district’s schools who carry their cell phones in their pockets and bags during the school day, in violation of the Code of Conduct. The district’s penalties for electronic devices violations, which include cell phones, range from warning and confiscation to out-of-school suspension. The Code of Conduct is available for review at any of the district’s schools, and you can find it on the district’s web site (bville.org), in its entirety, under “District Info & Data” on the left side of the home page.
Officer Knaul said that some parents are concerned about the ability to contact their children during the school day when their children do not have their cell phones with them. He said any parent may call his or her child’s school and ask to have the child called to the office to use the school’s phone. If a student needs to reach his or her parents, he or she may do so using the office phone.
One of the abuses of cell phones that Officers Knaul and Weeks have encountered in district schools and in the community is sexting. Officer Weeks said sexting is loosely defined as use of electronic communication to send sexually explicit messages or photos, primarily between cell phones. Possessing or disseminating this material is a felony when the subject of the photo is under 18 years old. Officer Weeks said that many students and parents are still not aware that this is a crime, or that parents are responsible for anything their children send with a cell phone or store on a cell phone.
Officers Knaul and Weeks noted that there is not one specific law that addresses sexting, but a whole gamut of laws under which it may fall including obscenity laws, pornography laws and endangering the welfare of a child. Anyone using a cell phone to possess or disseminate sexually explicit material of a minor (17 years old and under) could be charged with a felony and required to register as a sex offender.
Officer Weeks said that in Onondaga County the district attorney considers sexting cases based on each case’s own conditions and characteristics, including who sent what to whom, how many times and what the intent of the photo(s) or message(s) was. Officer Weeks said that cases in which girlfriends and boyfriends share explicit photos of each other, over the cell phone, for their eyes only are quite different from cases in which individuals forward explicit photos of someone for various reasons, including revenge or for money.
Officers Knaul and Weeks advise parents to be vigilant in checking their children’s cell phones to see who they are communicating with and what they are sending, receiving and storing on their cell phones. If you would like to speak with Officers Knaul and Weeks regarding cell phones, sexting or any other matter of concern, you can contact Officer Knaul at 638-5610 or email@example.com, and Officer Weeks can be contacted at 635-4566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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