cartoon by Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Broward Schools cell phone ban (February 2, 2014)

On the face of it, the fact that the Broward School District even has to consider a policy banning drivers from using their cell phones while on school grounds is absurd.

 

You’d think that parents, in particular, innately know that they should avoid electronic distractions when maneuvering a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds in an area teeming with running children. Nevertheless, as my colleague Karen Yi has reported, there have been instances of parents hitting kids in the drop-off zone, dragging their kids while they’re still halfway out of their cars, and in one instance, even dangling the choking family dog from the vehicle’s door by its collar.

 


Hollywood Doggie Beach Pictures

Despite this abiding peril, Florida legislators quail at the prospect of passing laws banning use of electronic devices while driving. Motorist/texters clearly believe that what they’re doing is a victimless crime, and it is — until they kill somebody. Yet, texting while driving is only a secondary offense.

 

Cell phone use remains completely unregulated. Our lawmakers may have surmised that depriving residents of their right to talk while hurtling down the highway would result in the unthinkable and abhorrent — waking them from their political torpor and impelling them to rise up and exact retribution at the polls.

 

Ms. Yi, in her story, also cited one parent who justified his use of his cell phone in the school pickup zone by insisting that he needed it to find his youngster in the “cluster bomb” of kids being released all at once. Those of us who came of age before the ubiquity of mobile devices recall that we and our parents somehow managed to locate each other without the aid of what one college professor has called, “the world’s longest umbilical cord.” In addition, we savor sweet memories of some of the most precious times of our childhood — those stolen hours when our parents had no idea where we were or what we were doing.

 

The sociological phenomena underlying inappropriate cell phone use aren’t the concern of the Broward School District. It has rightly chosen to focus on the simple matter of child safety.

 

School boards across America have already done a great job of turning their centers of learning into fortresses to protect their students from crazed gunmen while they remain in their charge. It only makes sense that they should also try to shield them from the irresponsibility of their own parents.