China: Around The Nation

Chinese school hammers home message that cell phones are simply not allowed

Zero tolerance policy made ‘very clear’ as video shows man in combat gear taking a metal mallet to handsets confiscated from pupils

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 2:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 2:25pm

A middle school in southwestern China is going to extreme lengths to hammer home its message that pupils are banned from carrying cell phones on its grounds.

In footage first shown on the Pear Video website and later republished by the state-run People’s Daily, a man in a combat uniform is seen using a hefty metal mallet to pulverise a handset on the school’s playing field as hundreds of pupils look on.

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The Yongmao Middle School, in Guiyang, Guizhou province, has a zero tolerance policy regarding students and cell phones, something that is made clear in the accompanying soundtrack, which can be heard blaring from the school’s public address system.

“Any cell phone brought into school against regulations – meaning the students haven’t alerted the school or obtained the proper credentials – will be soaked in water and smashed on the ground,” a woman’s voice announces.

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As the camera pans over the rows of assembled youngsters, the man in the military uniform returns to his hammering, before bending a broken handset with his hands and foot, and tossing it to the floor.

The process is then repeated with a new phone taken from a bag of confiscated booty.

An unnamed faculty member who is interviewed in the video says: “We made ourselves very clear. If a student still disobeys, we have no choice but to handle it this way, to destroy the phones in front of their faces. We do this to make it easier to manage our students.”

She adds that parents “support the school’s actions”.

Internet users were less than supportive, however, with many people slamming the school for wasting resources and taking such aggressive action.

“Mobile phones are private belongings, and schools do not have the right to destroy [them],” a person wrote on the microblogging platform Weibo.

“No one cares about how the children feel,” wrote another.

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Others took a more philosophical view of the matter.

“What you’re crushing is not just a cell phone, but children’s dreams,” a person said.

The debate over whether or not children should be allowed phones in Chinese schools is long-running, and Yongmao Middle School is far from being the first to go to extreme lengths to tackle the issue.

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According to news website Public Network, a middle school in Langfang, a city in northern China’s Hebei province is currently waging a “war against cell phones” and has gone so far as to install metal detectors to catch pupils who try to sneak them into class. In the interests of fair play, it has also spent more than 200,000 yuan (US$29,000) on the installation of payphones for its students’ use.