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Assault is still assault Jun 27

It’s not often that I shout at a newspaper but this article in yesterday’s Observer irritated me. Apparently there are calls for mobile phone signals to be jammed in schools in order to prevent “happy slapping” (or “assault” to you and me).

Two reasons why this is a dumb idea immediately spring to mind:

  • Kids can still use the video recording feature of their phone even if there is no signal
  • This does nothing to prevent incidents outside school (which is most of them, I imagine)

What annoyed me, though, was the inclusion in an otherwise sensible and balanced article of this paragraph:

Since the first attacks were reported about a year ago, their number – and severity – has dramatically escalated. Last week, an 11-year-old north London girl was raped after school by a gang of boys in a home near the school. The footage of the attack was then sent to other pupils by mobile phone.

That has nothing to do with the story being covered and isn’t part of a new craz – it’s a vile sexual assault of the most traditional sort, albeit with an unpleasant, modern twist.

Ironically, the very fact that the perpertrators videoed their attack and sent it to friends will probably aid the police in identifying and prosecuting the perpertrators.

4 Responses

  1. 1

    I nsort of agree with the sentiment of this but –

    as mobile use is linked to general indisiplne surely this is a good idea anyway?

    photographic evidence has been technologically available for a centuary. however happy slapping is modern. I’m not sure you can dismiss its signifigance as easierly as you do

  2. 2

    I don’t dismiss its significance; I was particularly questioning the inclusion in an article about mobile phone use in schools of a serious incident that took place out of school and in which the mobile phone was not the most important part.

    Photography has been around for over a century but in the past the perpetrators of crimes tended not to produce photographic evidence of their guilt themselves.

  3. 3

    its only evidence of guilt it they show there faces or other distinguishing features. I support head teachers who ban phones in schools. I don’t think you can out weigh the sense of horror people feel about these attacks with the possible minor chance that the photographing might incriminate some one. taboos fulfilling a useful social function

  4. 4

    Not at all – it would surely be possible, in this day and age of hi-tech crime-fighting, to trace the video back to the likely originating phone. Just interviewing those who received it should reach the same end.

    Although I have no strong feelings about banning phones in schools – and it’s certainly reasonable to ban them in lessons – Esther Rantzen makes a good point in that article about kids phoning ChildLine from school.

    And the point stands that most if such incidents take place out of school, it’s not really tackling the problem. A head teacher banning phones won’t make mobiles socially unacceptable.