Local Chinese newspaper, Lianhe Wanbao reported that the parent of a secondary two student from Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) is suing the school principal for confiscating the boy’s iPhone.

From the ACS (Barker Road) official website, the current school principal is Peter Tan Chong Tze.

The boy was said to have violated school regulation on mobile usage with his iPhone 7 and had his phone confiscated for three months as a punishment. This was said to have drawn the ire of the boy’s parents who took the principal to task by suing him, demanding for the return of the phone.

The said incident is reported to have occured on 8 March this year in a famous local school. Lianhe Wanbao identified the school as ACS (Barker Road).

The court plaintiffs are the parents of the student while the defendant is the school principal.

According to court documents, on 20 March 2017, the school principal received a feedback from the class teacher of the secondary 2 boy that the boy and his friend had been caught breaking the school rule on mobile usage, using his mobile phone during classes.

The next day, when the principal met with the two students, the plaintiffs’ son admitted to using his iPhone 7 and lending it to his friend to use. He also admitted that he knows that there is a school regulation that anyone caught using their mobile phones during lessons will have their phones confiscated for three months.

The boy was subsequently brought to the school office whereby the SIM card in his phone was returned to him while the phone was confiscated and locked in a school cabinet in the office.

The principal then issued a confiscation note to the student, stating that his phone is to be confiscated for a period of 3 months.

The same day evening, the student’s parents sent an email to the school, listing four reasons the school principal should return the phone back to their son.

According the the testimony from the plaintiffs, the school did not reply to the email and as such, a letter of demand was issued from the plaintiffs’ own law firm on 23 March, demanding for the return of the mobile phone or a lawsuit will follow.

Since the plaintiffs did not get any response from the school, they proceed to sue the school principal, applying for an injunction seeking the court to compel the school to return the phone.

Do you think the parents of the boy are making a mountain out of a molehill? Or was the school right to confiscate the boy’s mobile phone?

Remember, today’s strawberry generation are used to getting what they want and may not take punishment like confiscation of possessions as lightly as we used to. Moreover, it’s a smartphone we are talking about. Kids nowadays are glued to their mobile devices 24-7 and some deem it as important as their own lives. How is the boy going to live if he cannot share his rich kid on instagram updates or chat with his friends n Snapchat using rainbow filters for THREE MONTHS?

In Singapore, ACS (Barker Road) is generally known as a ‘school for rich kids’ and this incident is only going to reinforce this stereotype on the school as a breeding ground for spoilt brats with arrogant parents. Although to be fair to the students and the school, this family may be the exception rather than the norm. The school also does has a tradition of meting out harsh punishment.

According to SgWiki:

“Punishments at the school include detention, suspension, and corporal punishment, a long-standing tradition in the ACS family of schools. In the latter case the offender receives strokes of the cane across the seat of his trousers, often inflicted by Mr Ng. Caning is applied for offences such as repeated lateness to school, truancy, lateness to class, cheating, fighting, bullying, vandalism, truancy and smoking.

Punishments may be combined, for instance a boy may be suspended for one week and then caned upon his return to school. In serious cases, corporal punishment is administered in front of the offender’s class or even the whole school. Up to six strokes of the cane may be delivered on any one occasion.

On 20 April 2009, three Secondary 3 boys were caned in front of the whole school for bullying.”

We are not sure if 2009 was the last time public caning was done at ACS (Barker Road). However, we cannot imagine the reaction from the parents of the secondary 2 boy who had his phone confiscated if their son was given public caning instead. Would they have made a police report and try to get the school principal arrested?