Fri, Apr 03, 2009
Schools ban handphones from classrooms

Eight out of 10 couples interviewed by the Lianhe Wanbao said they would think twice before being affectionate in public, for fear of being unwitting 'stars' of voyeuristic videos.

According to a latest article in the Chinese-language evening daily, many people have expressed their unease over the increasing trend of Internet voyeurism, where photos or videos taken in secret of couples behaving intimately are posted on the web.

The slew of cases reported in the news recently have made schools sit up and take notice as well.

Caught for posting secretly-taken videos or photos on the web: 

Jan 2008 : Two 14-year-old students were caught for attempting to capture a shot of their teacher up-skirt. They were punished and caned in front of the school.

June 2009: A 12-year-old secondary schoolgirl led the class in a boycott against another classmate. They secretly took pictures of her and uploaded them onto a blog to humiliate her.

March 2007: A clip of a teacher reprimanding a student in class was put on the web. The teacher was also subjected to ridicule by students who made fun of the way she talked.

In an attempt to curb the influence of this disturbing trend on students, some schools have banned students from bringing their handphones to school.

When interviewed by reporters from the Chinese evening daily, the principal of Victoria Secondary School, Mr Low Eng Teong, said students are not allowed to use their handphones in school without their teacher's permission.

"We only allow students to use their phones only in emergency cases. If they flout the rule, we will try to understand the situation before deciding what to do next. Teachers also constantly remind students that they are not allowed to use their handphones in school," said Mr Low.

The principal of Mayflower secondary, Ms Wang Mei Lian, said the school had previously banned the use of handphones in school, but now allow students to use their phones only in the canteen during recess.

Both principals said this would ensure no videos of their teachers or students end up on video-sharing websites like Youtube. They also said they would closely monitor the situation with regard to students' use of mobile phones in school.

Classes on Internet etiquette 

In addition to these measures, both schools have also implemented extra classes for students to teach them about proper etiquette and ethics that govern the virtual world.

Said Mr Low: "Classes are held once a term to teach students on what they should look out for when taking a picture or video, such as whether they are infringing upon the privacy of others. The lesson also educates students on the concept of intellectual property law, critical especially when downloading information and music from the Internet."

What do parents have to say?

Members-of-Parliament (MPs) and parents whom Wanbao spoke to supported the move to ban the use of handphones in schools.

Said MP Mr Teo Ser Luck, 41, whose son is in Primary 3: "My son's school forbids students to bring their handphones to school, which is a rule I agree with. Parents can also guide their children on the proper use of their phones at home."

MP Mr Baey Yam Keng, 39, whose daughter is in Primary 3, said: "My daughter wanted a handphone after seeing her friends carrying one. However, we will only consider it when she is about to enter secondary school. Having a handphone in class will only distract her."

According to a parent, Mrs Chen, 42, who has a 14-year-old daughter, said: "It is not right to film or photograph others in secret and post it on the web. I would be very upset if my daughter did that."

Another parent, Mrs Xu, 45, who has a 16-year-old son, said: "I wonder if those people who enjoy secretly taking videos or photos of others and posting them on the web, know about the dangers of the Internet. Anyone could easily download them and do whatever they want with them."

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