The Power of the Cell Phone: Fox News’ Analyst Robin Sax Weighs in on Recording Bullying


Recording Bullying Can Shape the Future of Bullying 

Using Technology to Help Rather than Hinder Students


While schools all over are doing their best at enforcing the “no electronic devices” policy that has been around for some time now, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that almost all teenagers now carry cellphones to school. Texting, web surfing, and the endless games that are now available on a regular phone have turned them into a common distraction. Teachers and administrators frown upon them for that very reason. Among all the distractors though, the cell phone can be of extreme help to document an act of bullying.

Most cell phones now come with some sort of recording application, be it a video recorder, a camera, or a voice recorder. Many targets of bullying have lost trust in teachers and administrators who claim there is not enough evidence to expel or punish bullies or cyber bullies.  Recording the incident or taking a photo of a comment online can prove it exists, which will be harder for adults to deny. 

Taking out a cell phone and secretly recording a picture of someone being bullied or cyber bullied is a very simple way of having direct proof without having to personally speak to an administrator about what is going on.

Breaking the no cell phone rule is something some students are hesitant of doing though, and it is because of this that bullies are getting away with what they do best. According to several high school administrators, (school name is being withheld for privacy), in worst-case scenarios, the infraction of cell phone use would be overlooked if it were being used to protect another from bullying. When it comes down to it, an afternoon in detention beats being bullied for years, so it shouldn’t even be question in mind whether or not to document proof of bullying.

Robin Sax, a victim advocate, Fox 11 News’ Analyst, and former prosecutor for the state of California, says simply obtaining proof of bullying on a cell phone is only half  the process.  Sax shares her thoughts below in the Q&A.

Q&A with Robin Sax

Q: Do you think young people should be able to use their cell phones to record incidents of bullying?


A: Cell phone while not going to prevent bullying can be an effective tool in recording incidents that could ultimately be helpful in insuring that there are consequences and accountability when a bullying incident occurs. A cellphone could be helpful to prove what may happen and allows police authorities and school officials to not have to rely on what someone says or doesn’t say, I believe it helps to use cell phones and other technologies to document incidents.  Evidence can also show if teachers are doing or not doing their job to stop bullying, who else was involved in the bullying incident and to provide evidence before it is deleted digitally.

Q: What do you think about bystanders being taught to take out their cell phones to tape or record bullying as a way to support a target of bullying and encourage others to take out their cell phones as well?


A: It is important not only to train young people to take out their cell phones and other recording devices in order to document the incident, but also to teach them what to do with it.  Meaning, that it is important to use this as an opportunity to discuss that the phone is helpful as a tool for memorializing bullying incidents. However, it is critical to make sure kids know that they need to report incidents and use the footage as corroboration. Simply relying on video is not enough…it is a step that must be combined with reporting, follow up, and insistence that people who have the power to do something, do.

Q: Can you explain what you mean when you say they need to document it?


A:  Recording bullying is not enough.  What needs to go along with that is documentation, which may include, talking to an adult, getting a restraining order against the bully, contacting the media or getting help from the resource officer on campus.  The best approach is collaborative, where several people know about the incident and can help to put a stop to it.  

Q: If a school has a policy against students bringing their cell phones  to school, and teachers and principals don’t enforce bullying polices or ignore bullying, how can students protect themselves?  


A: If teachers and administrators were doing their jobs and making sure students were protected, then students would not need to record bullying incidents. There are policies in place at schools that do not allow for students to bring their cell phones to class. I am not advocating that students go against school policy.  Ideally, schools should have surveillance cameras in classrooms to protect students from teacher abuse, sexual abuse as well as bullying. However, schools could face other liabilities and costs by being mandated to have cameras in classrooms.

Q: To paraphrase, you do not think students should break school policy by bringing their cell phones to school if they are in danger of physical, verbal or psychological violence.  


A: I think kids need to learn to make judgment calls. Part of making that judgment all is for students to be able to identify when it’s a situation that warrant taping a situation.  Ideally, schools did a better job responding and being proactive there would be no need for kids to be in the situation that they would have to decide whether they should breach policy or not.

Written by Melissa Sherman, Executive Director, Beyond Bullies


Special thanks to Leda Costa for writing the introduction. 

Feb 2 2015 in Uncategorized, Whats New admin Comments Off on The Power of the Cell Phone: Fox News’ Analyst Robin Sax Weighs in on Recording Bullying

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