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Student Speaks Out : Searches at Schools Are Unreasonable Violation of Rights

July 06, 1986|MICHELLE MORPHEW | Michelle Morphew is an eighth - grade student at Muirlands Junior High School

The San Diego Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union recently asked students entering its first student editorial writing contest to express themselves on the U.S. Supreme Court's 1985 decision that the Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable search and seizure does not fully apply to students on school property. This was the winning editorial in the eighth-grade category.

As an American citizen, I feel that everyone's rights should be respected. This includes students. The rule that there must be a search warrant or "probable cause" should apply to all searches. Even though the problems with drugs and violence are very severe, they are not so severe that we must resort to unreasonable searches.

We as students are people who have rights. Our rights are just as important as those of our elders. We should not be deprived of them because of our age or because we cannot yet vote. We should not have to give up our rights when the only reason is that others our age are committing crimes.

Would adults feel safe if the police could search their homes at any time because among their peers were murderers, drug dealers, or robbers? Would they feel that it was fair? Wouldn't they protest? Of course they would. Most adults would not allow anyone to deprive them of their rights.

The police or school officials should at least have a "probable cause" to search lockers or other school property. To search without a logical reason is unjust. What benefits are received by searching the lockers of thousands of children when only a few of them have done anything wrong? Have the findings of drugs and weapons been so significant that they are reason enough to continue these unmerited searches? A factor in these locker inspections is that most of the time the students know when their lockers are going to be inspected, so that anything suspicious can be removed. In the end, these searches serve no useful purpose.

I realize, as do many others, that drugs and violence are growing problems in the schools. But random searches of property are not the answer. Is the answer to murder to check every single person and their households for weapons? Would you subject yourself to these inspections?

I feel that if you would let your house and possessions be searched without a warrant, you would be giving up your rights. The rights we have as people should never be violated for any reason. If children are going to be searched, they should be searched under the same laws that apply to adults. Random searches should never become something that we allow to be inflicted on our people.

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