Cell Phones in School; Help or Hurt? - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Cell Phones in School; Help or Hurt?

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Panama City, Fla. -

A recent incident involving two students at a Panama City school ends with felony charges for one student and raises a question: Do cell phones help or hurt?

In the video one student at North Bay Haven Charter Academy walks up and punches another student. It was recorded on a cell phone video.

This video shows a cell phone being used during school hours to record a fight. This 15-year-old student walks down the hall and hits another.

Principal Meredith Higgins says the fight isn't the only school policy violation; the cell phone also should have been put away. "Our policy is that students have to keep their phones in their locker during the school day."

According to the police report, the students in the video and the one recording it were arrested. The boy who threw the punch faces a felony charge of simple assault.

Higgins says cell phones in schools can be both a help and hindrance. "There is somewhat of an internal conversation that we have about the educational value of some of the computers that kids walk around with in their pockets these days."

These cell phones have changed a lot of things, even the way we put together news stories. But according to Florida statute, schools must allow kids to have cell phones somewhere at school.

Higgins says educators get a choice. "Schools get to determine when they're on campus the terms for how they're used or not used and where they're kept."

Cell phone video serves as evidence in this case and it's used more every day in investigating crimes, according to Sgt. Jeff Becker of the PCPD. "It would depend on the circumstances of how we obtained it. But if it's sent to us randomly; like if you voluntary give us your video, then that could be used as evidence."

A new app for iPhone allows everyday citizens to snap video or still pictures and send it directly to area law enforcement.

Sgt. Becker says the app is relatively new. "I can only see where the future is going. I think I've seen where 90 percent of people have a cell phone. And they probably mostly have cameras in those today. I'm sure the features and apps will just continue to come out."

Social media also aided in this investigation. According to the police report the investigation started after the suspect posted the video to facebook and youtube.

Due to the age of the suspect News 13 decided not to give his name and blurred his face as well as the faces of other students in the video.