Sheshatshiu school bans mobile phones to curb fighting
Principal Bud Davis fears what could become 'horrible postings on the internet'
Teachers in the Labrador Innu community of Sheshatshiu are banning students from carrying cellphones at school, arguing that the phones encourage aggression and then sharing fight videos on social media.
"What used to be sometimes disagreements, they now become performances," said principal Bud Davis.
Davis said teachers made the decision as the new school year opened, with his own views informed by a lunchtime fight he witnessed on the school's parking lot.
"I saw a ruckus down in the far end of the parking lot, I went down and saw a teacher who had come out to break up the fight," Davis told CBC News, adding about 10 students were recording the fight using their mobile phones.
"The nightmare scenario here for me was what if one of these kids happened to be really good with Photoshop or video editing," Davis said.
"They go home, they post it on Twitter, only the part where the teacher is trying to separate the students. You know, taken out of context that [could] look really bad," he told Labrador Morning.
"I can see the headlines now, 'a typical day at Sheshatshiu Innu School' and then followed with the edited video."
Days of 'meet me at the flagpole' have changed
Davis said phones and social media have changed how children and adolescents behave.
"We have kids telling each other to meet us after school, and they show up with their camera," he said. "It is escalating [to the point where] they don't want to look bad on YouTube."
Nowadays in the cellphone and Twitter age, we have students who are literally broadcasting that sort of thing to one another, right in the middle of class.- Principal Bud Davis
Davis said the days of students saying "meet me at the flagpole after school" have evolved.
Moreover, he said, the technologies are a distraction from education.
"Nowadays in the cellphone and Twitter age, we have students who are literally broadcasting that sort of thing to one another, right in the middle of class," he said.
"I can't see us standing by and allowing that sort of thing to happen without any kind of response to it."
Davis said the policy has actually been in place since the school opened back in 2009, but that the administration and teachers are now making a strong point of enforcing it.
Davis said everyone involved is supportive of the rule.
"If we had a very vocal disagreement to this policy we would find out about it through our trustees," he said.
Students who are caught with a mobile phone face confiscation times of one day, one week or possibly longer.