Frisking students for mobile phones hurts their self-respect, says Kerala child rights panel

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Thiruvananthapuram: In a significant order, Kerala's child rights panel has directed authorities to stop frisking students to check on them carrying mobile phones in schools saying it amounts to hurting their "self-respect" and "dignity".

The panel ordered that the gadgets can be carried to educational institutions with the permission of parents for certain special needs.

"Body frisking of students and scanning their bags for mobile phones are barbaric and against the democratic culture... It amounts to hurting the dignity and self-respect of children. So, it should be strictly avoided," the panel stated.

It was also a violation of national and international child rights laws and the fundamental rights ensured by the Constitution, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights said in its recent order.

Criticising the blanket ban imposed against students carrying mobile phones to schools, it said the gadgets have become an inseparable part of today's life and the need of the hour is a scientific and psychological approach to check them from becoming addicted to it.

At present, the usage of mobile phones is banned in state schools and the Commission's stand is also that children should not use mobile phones in schools, it said.

"Though children have no permission to use mobile phones in schools, they can carry it with the permission of parents for certain special needs. School authorities should make arrangements to keep the phones after switching off till the class hours are over," the order said.

The full bench of the Commission, comprising its Chairman K V Manoj Kumar and members B Babitha and Reni Antony, came out with the significant directive recently while considering a complaint of a parent of a student whose mobile phone was confiscated by school authorities.

Stating that there was no legal backing for the existing practice of confiscation of mobile phones from students by the school authorities, the panel also ordered to give back the phone to the complainant within three days.

Chairman Manoj Kumar said the panel also directed the authorities to implement a programme in schools to make children "social media literate".

"We cannot avoid the usage of mobile phones these days. So, what we can do is to make children more literate about the internet and social media and equip them to use it safely," he told PTI.

Imposing a complete ban on mobile phones was not a solution for cellular phone and social media misuse and its subsequent problems, he added. PTI

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