Alabama High School Bans Cell Phones To Curb Cyberbullying

Amanda Gatlin - Author

Dec. 16 2014, Updated 11:40 a.m. ET

An Alabama high school has banned cell phones because of cyberbullying, according to Cullman Times. Good Hope High School administrators issued a ban on cell phones on campus in response to “inappropriate and abusive messages” posted about students on the mobile app Yik Yak.

The report goes on to say that last month, Cullman City Schools temporarily restricted cell phone use for Cullman High School students. The students were not allowed to use their cell phones without an adult present “in an effort to curb inappropriate posts generated about Cullman High School students and faculty on Yik Yak,” according to Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth.

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Dr. Griffeth went on to say that the restrictions at Cullman High, however, only lasted a few days, as “students began policing themselves and took responsibility for the negative posts.” She said that the students “stepped-up and decided they wanted the full freedom to use their phones and didn’t want these posts to represent them or their community.” She says, “We’re training our kids to be responsible and alerting our parents to these issues when they come up.”

The report says that students at Good Hope were notified early Thursday of the ban after “several anonymous users posted offensive comments targeting students,” according to Assistant Principal Houston Blackwood.

Mr. Blackwood says that the students have “responded well,” and there haven’t been any issues so far as they continue to monitor posts on the app. He says that the administrators will evaluate the situation next week, and from there they will make a decision regarding lifting the ban on cell phones.

The report says that Cullman city and county school systems are not alone in their attempt to “get a handle on how to deal with Yik Yak posts aimed at students that include pornographic images, name-calling, and threats of violence.” It goes on to say that Yik Yak users are allowed to post comments, or yaks, anonymously, similar to Reddit, and that only messages from users within a 1.5-mile radius are displayed.

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According to City Lab, in 2005 New York City, the Department of Education issued a ban on cell phones in schools citing concerns over “cheating, inappropriate or lewd texting, and preventing general distraction among New York’s students.” The report goes on to say that some parents and students have fought to overturn the ban, citing that cell phones are “now a basic part of life, and ought to be allowed in schools if used responsibly.”

Some argue that a ban on cell phones in schools hurts poorer students, according to The Atlantic. Cell phone use in the classroom serves as an equalizer of sorts, leveling the playing field for students from low-income families. Philadelphia teacher Larissa Pahomov says that prohibiting students from bringing cell phones to class “could equate a missed opportunity for needy kids.” She goes on to say that cellphones play a role in the classroom. She says that kids primarily use them to produce content like recording audio, taking photos, and filming video clips. Further, she says that school districts across the nation are embracing this approach, and some have “adopted a BYOD policy—bring your own device.”

According to an Inquisitr report, there are pros and cons to cell phone usage in the classroom, and the topic is not without controversy. While cell phones assist and enhance student learning greatly, they also serve as a distraction for the students. Further, some of the apps that students use to aid in their learning simply supply the answer without the student understanding how it arrived to it.

Good Hope High School’s attempt to curb cyberbullying by issuing a ban on cell phones is not the first, and it’s certainly not the last. Do you think cell phones be allowed in schools?

[Image Via Highway To Safety]


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