Coffs schools monitor mobile phone abuse
By LEE McDOUGALL
THE two-day suspension of a Year 5 Castle Hill Public School boy for downloading nude photos on his mobile phone was appropriate punishment, according to local primary school principals.
The Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday contacted the Department of Education and several local schools to see just what the policy was on mobile phones in schools.
According to a Department of Education spokesman, there was no set policy relating to the use of mobile phones within NSW public primary or high schools, with the decisions to ban or not to ban being left up to the individual schools.
Of the local primary schools contacted, all allowed mobile phones if requested by parents, but the phones had to be checked into the office at the start of the school day, and could not be collected until after school.
Mobile phones were not allowed in the classrooms, and for teachers phones had to be switched off during class times.
"A two-day suspension was appropriate for a child of that age," Sawtell Primary School principal Michael Trist said.
"Kids of that age being exposed to those kinds of images is inappropriate."
According to Narranga Primary School deputy principal Roxley Bryant, there are many issues surrounding mobile phone use at school beyond the simple disruption they can pose to classes.
"Something like 40 per cent of mobile phones now have internet access so that opens up a whole other issue," Mr Bryant said.
"There is also the whole issue of bullying via mobile phones and over the internet."
The suspended Castle Hill student allegedly showed photos of a nude woman to at least eight children.
The school principal wrote to the families of 123 children in the grade warning that they may have 'come into contact' with the material.
Parents have been urged to check the history of all searches made on their home computer to find out whether their children may have accessed pornography.