TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: To Truants in Rome, SMS is the Enemy

To Truants in Rome, SMS is the Enemy

Monty Solomon (
Mon, 3 Oct 2005 02:54:10 -0400

By Elisabetta Povoledo International Herald Tribune

MILAN Students in Rome are becoming guinea pigs in an experiment that
uses cellphones to deter truancy.

Starting on Monday for about six months, when students fail to show up
for class and the school has not been previously notified, a text
message will be automatically sent to their parents' mobile phones.

"We haven't invented anything new -- what's new is the instrument,"
said Ornella Bergamini, the school board official who coordinated the
experimental project, which covers students aged 14 to 16 at four
middle schools and eight technical institutes in one school district.
That, she said, is "the most critical age for dropping out" and is
usually preceded by repeated absenteeism.

The program is part of a larger interactive online portal for her
school district. Text messaging, Bergamini said, lets parents know
when their children were skipping school in real time. "It should be a
useful deterrent," she said.

As cellphones have increasingly become a must-have for minors,
cellular technology has rapidly evolved to intersect with many aspects
of teenage life. Banned in many Italian schools during exam time
because of their potential as a cheating device, cellphones, like
other cellular and satellite technology, are now used to allow parents
to monitor where their children are, and even how fast they are
driving a car.

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