Do schools have the right to search students' lockers?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2011, 12:00am

Elaine Yu Yee-nee, 15, Creative Secondary School

Lockers are designed in a way to hide their contents for a reason. Otherwise, they'd have open fronts like cupboards.

Searching students' lockers would be an utter invasion of privacy. The point of having a locker is more than having a place to store your stuff. A locker also gives you the freedom to keep certain things hidden.

These can include harmless personal items like diaries, love letters and photographs. Searching lockers could embarrass students and others might make fun of them.

Yes, lockers are school property. But that doesn't give schools the right to inspect lockers as they please. While students are using lockers, they have the right to keep their contents private.

Teachers could ask for permission to take a look inside a student's locker, and if the student is okay with that, then it would be fine.

Searching students' lockers without their permission would violate their trust. Schools should be a fair and honest place.

I doubt that students who have something dangerous to hide, such as weapons or illegal substances, would put them in their lockers. They would not want to risk being caught so easily.

Giving schools the right to search lockers would not help catch offenders. But it would certainly create an environment in which students would be embarrassed to have their belongings revealed in public for no good reason.

Ronald Ling Pak-ki, 20, University of Hong Kong

Many students see their lockers as personal property. They would never agree schools should have the right to inspect their lockers. But I think schools have an absolute right to do so.

First, it is the schools that actually own the lockers. Students just use them to store some of their things safely and conveniently.

There are clear guidelines on what items students can and cannot keep in their lockers. Schools have both the duty and the right to check if students are following the rules.

Students should make sure that no prohibited items are stored in their lockers.

I believe most students who insist that schools should not have the right to search their lockers are using it an excuse - they have something to hide.

I don't think school authorities would decide to search a student's locker unless they felt the need to do so. They might, for instance, suspect students of hiding game consoles or even drugs. To make sure that the process remains open and fair, only authorised teachers should have the right to search lockers.

The search should be carried out in such a way as not to embarrass students in front of others. That would lay to rest concerns over privacy.

Schools should have the right to inspect lockers, but they should only do so when there is a good reason for it. Students with nothing to hide have nothing to worry about.