TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: NYC Students and Parents Want Cell Phone Ban Lifted

NYC Students and Parents Want Cell Phone Ban Lifted

Christine Kearney (
Thu, 15 Jun 2006 10:37:21 -0500

By Christine Kearney

New York may be a city of incessant cell phone talkers, but students
vowed on Wednesday they would hit the "off" button during classes as
they battled a ban on cell phones in schools.

Speaking at a city council hearing where lawmakers introduced a bill
aimed at overriding a ban on cell phones enforced under Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, high school students and their parents spoke out against
the unusually stringent anti-cell phone policy.

"I feel mature enough to be able to turn off my cell phone in class,"
said LaGuardia high school student Jenna Gogan, 16. "This is about
students' safety, because, especially in New York City, many parents
need to feel reassured they can contact their kids going to and from

Dissent over the ban in New York escalated recently when Bloomberg
introduced metal scanners and random checks at some of the city's
1,408 public high schools. The new scanners used to protect the city's
1.1 million students had led to the confiscation of more than 3,000
cell phones and 36 weapons, mostly knives and razor blades.

Detroit and Philadelphia also bar cell phones from schools while Los
Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Las Vegas allow them in the schools but
prohibit their use during classes.

During the hearing, Bloomberg's representatives said the policy dated
back to a 1988 ban on pagers and was needed to prevent students from
using phones to send and receive text messages, taking photographs,
surfing the Web and playing video games.

"Cell phones, with their multiple capabilities, are not just phones,"
deputy mayor Dennis Walcott told the hearing. "Students have used cell
phones to summon friends for fights, to cheat on exams and to take
illicit photographs."

But city council members said crime and disruptive behavior would
occur regardless of the ban and any new law passed would allow
students only to use phones before or after school and not during

"Kids pass notes back and forth but that doesn't mean we take away
pens," said council member Belinda Katz.

Carmen Colon, a mother of three, said her kids needed phones so she
could "juggle their lives" and keep track of them.

"This is a big city, it's tough and a whole lot of things go on," said
her son Andre Green, 13. Asked if he had heard phones ring during
class, he answered: "Yes, but sometimes it's just their mother

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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