The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mobile morality in church schools

The Delhi cell phone smut scandal threatens to separate Calcutta's kids from their cell phones while on campus, and if possible, beyond.

The Church of North India (CNI), which runs a number of English-medium schools in the city, is trying to put in place an 'effective ban' on the use of mobile phones by children in its schools.

A Delhi schoolboy's doing ' photographing a sexual act as a video clip on his hi-tech phone ' has prompted this crackdown. 'We are aiming to prevent children studying in our schools from using cell phones either on or off campus,' said Reverend P.S.P. Raju, Bishop of Calcutta diocese, CNI, on Wednesday.

January onwards, once the circulars go out to schools, cell phones found on children are likely to be confiscated.

Camera, Internet, fancy ringtones and SMS are distractions, feels the Church, which must be curbed.

Guardians should share the responsibility, feels the Bishop. 'Heads of all our educational institutions have been asked to enforce the ban. But we also realise that we need to involve guardians if we are to keep a constant watch on the children. The Delhi incident occurred because the guardians concerned did not have any idea what the children were doing,' he said.

Parents will also be asked to monitor the amount of time children spend with phones at home. 'We are determined to prevent our students from using SMS as well, but we need the help of their guardians,' the Bishop stressed.

A meeting with the heads of CNI schools will be held in January to discuss the matter. The schools include La Martiniere, Pratt Memorial, St James and four branches of St Thomas Diocesan.

Heads of other educational institutions in the city controlled by the CNI, like Scottish Church School and St Paul's, will be also asked to take similar measures.

The school authorities will be directed to monitor if the students' phones have cameras or allow Internet access.

The Internet crackdown is apparently a bid to stop easy access to 'pornographic material', church officials said. Parents will be asked to ensure their own cell phones don't have ringtones that may 'distract students from their studies'.

Taking the mobile morality code beyond school gates, the CNI will ask the heads of its schools to direct parents to ensure there are no cell phones in cars that wait outside institutions to take the children back home.

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