Since cell phones became particularly popular and accessible for teens, it’s become an increasing issue to keep teens on-task and off their phones during school hours.
Confiscation of the phone is a common practice at many schools.
But that confiscation shouldn’t be permanent, clarified the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor justwantedwings agreed with this after she approached her daughter’s school, seeking her confiscated cell phone.
But after she was criticized for her actions, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she took it too far.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for insisting I get the phone back, despite policy?”
The OP’s daughter recently had her phone confiscated at school.
“My kids attend a year-round school and started back up for the new term 2 weeks ago.”
“My eldest (16 [Female]) ended up getting her phone confiscated for using it during class to watch TikTok.”
“We had discussed this before she even got the phone, then had some issues last year.”
“As a last resort, I told her if that happened again, the phone would become mine and she’d get an old flip phone that was my husband’s with no internet until she could prove trust.”
“The school policies had changed this term from a phone being confiscated until a parent could come to get it, to a phone being kept for 2 weeks as a first offense, 3 for a second offense, so on and so forth.”
The OP did not support the school’s new policy.
“I wasn’t okay with this as I don’t trust the school to not lose it (I know they’ve lost/broken other students’ phones).”
“Plus I don’t want them having access to my daughter’s private info.”
“I went to the school and requested it back, saying I wouldn’t give it to my daughter but that I paid for it.”
“The secretary gave me the spiel and I didn’t blame her but asked to speak with the Vice Principal.”
“He came out and repeated the rules.”
“I said okay but I’m the parent, I paid for it, and I never signed anything giving you permission to hold the phone.”
The OP did the only thing she could think of to get the phone back.
“They were refusing, so I said I’d sit in the office until it was given back.”
“I did so and waited for close to 2 hours.”
“Finally, the principal came out and said I needed to leave.”
“I said if I left, I’d be back with a police escort.”
“At that point, the phone was returned to me.”
“My husband says I ‘Karened’ my way out of it.”
“To me, it’s not their property to take.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed cell phones should not be withheld for a lengthy amount of time.
“NTA. The school’s policy is stupid. Your daughter was in the wrong, but many high school students need their cell phones for communication re: younger siblings, jobs, and medical appointments. Some kids stay home alone in houses with no landlines or drive, making having a phone a safety issue.”
“While the school is within their rights to discipline your kid during school hours, they need to get their head out of their a** and realize that there are bigger issues at play.” – SoonerStates
“Teacher here! NTA. What kind of whack job school is this?”
“It is well understood in all the schools I have worked for that parents and teachers are a team working toward the same goal: the best interests of the child. Therefore not only is the school’s relationship with parents incredibly important, but parents should be looped in and consulted regarding both educational and disciplinary decisions whenever possible.”
“You came in acknowledging that you agree that the phone should be confiscated and ready to back that up at home by swapping your child’s phone for a flip phone, so there should have been zero issue handing the phone back to you. I can’t believe they’d choose this hill to die on! Just give the d**n phone back, my god!” – cebogs
“This isn’t legally enforceable policy. If the school wants to be that anal, they can pay for the phone plans of their students. Confiscating it until the end of the day is about as far as they can feasibly go. This is stupid, and a nightmare waiting to happen (for the administration).” – Thighs_
“The school keeping the phone for 2 weeks is extensive. If they want to do something like that then it should be an in school policy only- the offender hands the phone over at the beginning of the school day and collects it at the end.”
“What if something happens during those 2 weeks [or more] without a phone? If the youth gets into a situation, outside of school, and is unable to contact anyone for help?”
“The world isn’t a safe place and phones are a means of getting help quickly.” – Aspiegirl24
Others were concerned at the potential damage or sharing of private property.
“Since when can schools just take private property with confidential information on it for weeks at a time? ESPECIALLY knowing how often things get ‘lost’ when they are confiscated?”
“How often do you see articles of teachers/principals confiscating electronics and then selling them on eBay? I’ve definitely seen those stories, no thanks.”
“They were definitely hoping you’d just get bored and leave. They have no grounds for keeping things like this, and knew it when you threatened to get the police involved.” – ruski101
“NTA. Good for you. I hope I would do the same thing in that situation. Phones are very expensive. It would be a more fitting punishment if it were a menial toy like a fidget spinner or something with little value.”
“For the record, I also hugely agree with giving your daughter a flip phone as punishment. Its perfect. Now-a-days kids do need phones as a life-line for safety reasons. But a 16yo definitely does not need highspeed internet access in their pockets if they can’t use it responsibly.” – frannyfranfran5
“I’m not a lawyer nor do I know where you are but I strongly suspect the schools policy wouldn’t hold up to a legal challenge as there’s numerous issues with property rights.”
“The policy is wrong but we should be empathetic to understand where they’re coming from. I think I get it. They don’t want s**tty parents to get the phone back, give it to the kid only to have it confiscated the next day”
“There are other ways around it. If a student violates the rule repeatedly there are normal discipline channels. The issue at that point is the student, not the phone. They can’t hold the property of the occasional distracted teen so they don’t have to deal with trouble teens with s**t parents.”
“When dealing with this I find it’s helpful to say, ‘Hey, I get it. You’re trying to avoid me giving it to my kid and it winds up back with you. I’m on your side, I care about my child’s education too. I’m planning to take steps X, Y & Z.'”
“‘I understand you have a policy but I think it’s misguided and ultimately illegal. You need to return my property to me, we can discuss my daughters focus issues but lets not escalate this to a legal matter.'” – mad_throwaway123
Though her husband didn’t see eye-to-eye with her, the subReddit supported the OP’s persistence in getting her daughter’s phone back. The teen may not deserve to have that particular phone right now, but the item still belongs with the family, not accessible to anyone who works in the administrative office at the school.