A 13-YEAR-OLD girl claims she was warned by police she faced charges for posting a mobile phone picture taken during a lesson.
Lauren Sloan’s snap showed her doing a “peace” sign, the back of her teacher, and the words “Much hate”.
The image, taken on Tuesday, was later shown by a pupil to the same teacher at Lasswade High, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian.
The following day, Lauren received the first of four reprimands from senior teachers and had her mobile briefly confiscated.
Later that day, Lauren’s mother, Lynsey, 37, said she got a call from the school to say they had phoned the police to report the matter.
A tearful Lauren told her mother she had been taken out of class – for the third time – to meet a police officer who warned her she could be charged.
Lynsey, from Bonnyrigg, claimed the reaction of the school was “extreme” and “silly” and is complaining to Midlothian Council. Lauren insists the message reflected her dislike of the subject involved and not the teacher.
But teaching unions said many students still do not realise the problems mobile phone use in the classroom can cause, including bullying.
Laura used the smartphone app Snapchat to take the picture and share it with her contacts. The image is designed to be permanently deleted within seconds but can easily be saved using a phone’s screengrab feature.
The teacher was shown the image by a student while teaching another class and is understood to have reported the matter to school management.
Lauren, a second year pupil, said: “ It was just a selfie on Snapchat, I put it up on my story.
“The teacher was crouched down talking to a pupil. It was just the back. I wrote “Much hate” because I struggle in that class.
“People do it all the time, taking photos in class. I didn’t even know it was an offence.”
She added: “It was the next day it got mentioned. I was in French at the time and my teacher got a call to tell me to go up. They said it was a serious offence. They said the police would be involved because of it. I was quite intimidated.
“I got called out of class later on the next day and one of my teachers and the policeman were in the lunch hall waiting for me.
“He just said that he can’t talk to me right now, he would have to come to my house and possibly be charged.
“He said “It’s a very serious offence and I’ll probably have to come to your house.”
“I didn’t really say anything. I just said: “OK.”
“I was kind of scared as I thought it was really serious. I didn’t know what my mum might say. I just thought I was in the wrong.”
Lynsey said: “I thought it was a bit extreme to be honest. She shouldn’t have had her phone – definitely not. I’ll be having a word with her about that. But they all do it.
“They said Lauren had posted a picture on social media and had taken it down again but she wasn’t allowed to do that so they phoned the police.
She added: “Lauren got taken to speak to the police. The police said they didn’t have time to deal with it just now and they may possibly charge her.
“Charge her with what?”
Asked how she would react if the police officer turned up, she said: “I’m going to inform them that it’s rather silly and he can’t charge her.
“I’m going to go to the head of education anyway.”
Seamus Searson, General Secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, said: “The youngsters don’t always know the problems these things can cause – the bullying that can go on, of other kids and teachers.
“We do get members who feel very threatened because they can’t control it.”
He added: “I think the long-term view is educating the youngsters about mobile phones and the problems they can cause.
“It’s not as much of a problem as it used to be. I think youngsters are a bit more understanding.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “At no point did the School Link Officer intimate this was being investigated as a criminal offence, nor was it part of a police inquiry.”
“Following an incident in Lasswade High School, where a pupil was found using her mobile phone in the classroom, the School Link Officer was asked by the Deputy Head Teacher to speak to the youth in relation to her conduct while in school.
“The officer informed the pupil that he would discuss the matter further in the presence of her parents and appropriate advice about behaviour and the use of a mobile phone and social media in class was provided.
A spokeswoman for Midlothian Council said: “While we cannot comment on individual incidents, schools in Midlothian work in partnership with Education IT colleagues and community police officers to educate and inform pupils about appropriate use of social media.”