Tamluk, July 13: A surprise check by teachers of an East Midnapore school last week revealed that 36 students of Classes XI and XII had pornographic content in their cellphones.
The authorities of the co-educational school have summoned guardians of the 36 students tomorrow, when they would be advised on “how to discipline their wards”.
The surprise check last week was done after a teacher saw a boy taking pictures of a girl using his cellphone in class. The teacher told the boy to hand over his phone and found several “obscene images and videos” saved in it.
Although the state government does not have any guideline on carrying cellphones to classes, watching pornography is illegal for minors. “Watching pornography is prohibited for all in cyber cafés and in public places. Most of the students in the school would be less than 18 years of age,” a police officer said.
According to a senior education department official, at least 20 students in two other schools in the same district were served show-cause notices over the past few weeks after pornographic content was found in their cellphones.
The headmaster of the school said the mobile phones of the 36 students had been seized.
“We found out about the mobile phone contents by chance. After the teacher saw the boy taking pictures on his cellphone in class, he seized his phone and found it contained several obscene videos and images. Then, we carried out the check. We will speak to the guardians of the 36 students tomorrow and advise them how to discipline their wards,” said the headmaster of the school, where most of the students belong to farmer families.
Most of the guardians The Telegraph spoke to said they had bought their children cellphones because they often returned home late after tuitions. They said they did not know pornographic videos could be downloaded even in the low-cost phones they had bought.
“I’ll be more careful in the future. We are unaware of the ill-effects of the mobile phone,” said a farmer whose son was among the 36.
The absence of a government guideline on carrying cellphones to schools made several teachers debate on the need for a clampdown. A teacher of an ICSE school said: “It totally depends on the school. See, Internet has its advantages and disadvantages. But strict discipline will have to be enforced. If you buy your minor son a cellphone, you need to guide him properly.”
All the 36 students whose cellphones were seized were boys.
In Calcutta, most ICSE and CBSE schools bar students from using cellphones during classes. But the rules vary. While some schools prohibit students from carrying cellphones to the campuses, in others, they either have to deposit the phones in office or keep them in their bags.
Mahmud Hossain, a Trinamul zilla parishad functionary in charge of education, said he would write to education minister Partha Chatterjee requesting him to ban the use of cellphones by students in schools. “It’s alarming to know that boys this young are downloading pornography on their mobile phones.”
Education minister Chatterjee said: “Let me get the letter. I will look into it.”
The headmaster of another school said he had served show-cause notices on 12 students in the past one month and warned them that they would be rusticated in the future.
Aloke Patra, a Tamluk-based psychiatrist, said guardians needed to be more careful about their wards during adolescence. “Otherwise, there are chances of them going astray.”