ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) – Police in this Austin suburb were stumped for hours by the 49 emergency calls that kept coming in from an unregistered cell phone. The caller would say nothing before hanging up, sometimes after a brief giggle. Eventually, though, police found their man, er child: a 7-year-old calling from his elementary school classroom just for kicks.
This is a constant problem for us. Having the deactivated phones be able to call 911 was a nice idea, but there are unintended consequences. We’ve had the problem with the kids calling several times. Several years ago we had someone calling from a deactivated phone saying that they had been kidnapped and were locked in a car trunk.
Now we have the capability of locating most cell phones. The older ones will only give us the location of the cell towers, but the newer ones will give us a location within 50 feet.
That’s nice when it works but as we found out while looking for some lost girls in the woods up by the Pacific Crest Trail, that doesn’t always work. Their location showed as being about 10 miles west of their true location.
Unfortunately, most of the deactivated phones are the older models that don’t give the location. The Center for Rape and Domestic Violence collects them to give out to women. Then they let their kids play with them, s we get a lot of infants and small children. If we can’t locate them we try to get them to put an adult on the phone. If they’re young enough they will often give the phone to mommy if you ask them to. Other than that all we can do is try to scare them. That works sometimes but not with the older kids that are doing ti for kicks.
When I was a kid, doing something like this would have earned a “trip to the boiler room” with the school principal. He had a paddle that he would apply to seat of the problem. Then you could look forward to the same when you got home.
No more though. Now if he gets more than a talking to by someone who tries to get him to “understand”, I’d be very surprised.
The down side of this story is that now that it’s been on TV, a whole bunch of other kids know how it works and how hard it is to track, and if you don’t think that the little darlings will put that knowledge to use, you need to get out more. Children are barbarians. The job of parents and schools is to civilize them. But many are unable or unwilling to do it.