VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 12/18/2011
The panel The question: At least one in 20 teenagers was robbed of a mobile phone last year. Would children be better off without them? Mary Crowley, Spokeswoman, Parenting, Education and Support Forum There is huge commercial pressure on children to own mobile phones and this pressure is transferred to their parents. Of course, it's great to be able to phone them and say, "Where are you and can you bring home a loaf of bread because you've eaten all of the last one?" If someone demands a phone, they should hand it over - it's not worth losing your life over. Children mugging others for phones is the worst end of a universal problem of commercialism. We must think carefully about advising children how to use phones, but we should allow teenagers to have them. Alexander Dowty, 13-year-old member of Children's Express news agency The girl who was shot in the head for her phone lives just around the corner from me. It's not great when you hear about things like that and I don't wander around my area any more because I don't really think it's safe. I do have a mobile phone and I haven't been mugged for it. I wouldn't get rid of it. My mum likes me to have one so she can keep in contact with me when I'm out. She says it makes her feel a lot better about me going out on my own. I don't see why you should have to hide a mobile phone but, on the other hand, you don't want to end up losing it. Mary MacLeod, Chief executive, National Family and Parenting Institute Parents are caught between a rock and a hard place with mobile phones. They are a great source of comfort and security, because they allow parents to find out where their children are and keep in touch with them. At the same time, they make young people targets for crime. Obviously, mobiles need to be used with great caution in public, and phone companies need to find ways to make stolen phones worthless. The policing of areas where young people congregate is also an important issue. Parents need to be aware of the dangers, and make them clear to their children. Jacqui Brookes, Chief executive, Federation of Communication Services You should look after your mobile phone like any valuable possession. Parents rightly wish their children to be able to make contact, especially in emergencies. But as yesterday's Home Office report points out, phones can be a target for criminals. Together, parents and children can take a range of precautions, such as security-marking the phone with your postcode and street number, keeping a note of your phone's serial number, and informing the police if it is stolen. Above all, be aware of your surroundings and use your phone carefully and discreetly. Lee Jasper, Adviser to the mayor of London on race and policing It's my impression that young people have always been disproportionately the victims of crime, especially theft and violent crime, and the explosion of new technology hasn't helped. Instead of buying teenagers expensive mobile phones, some might be better off with pagers. The present debate about mobile phone thefts from young people by young people is focusing on race and crime when it should actually be focusing on poverty, social exclusion and crime. Social exclusion and discrimination always come at a price, and we are seeing that price reflected now. Tim Godwin, Deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police It is appropriate for parents to buy teenagers mobile phones, but they do have a responsibility to give some advice about their use, because owning a mobile phone puts their son or daughter at risk of becoming a victim of street crime. By pressing *#06#, a parent can find out the phone's serial number and make a note of it; they can property-mark the phone, too. To a street robber, a phone is perceived as cash, so phones should be handled the way you would handle cash in the street. Parents should also put pressure on the industry to make mobile phones less desirable to muggers.
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