MONTPELIER — A bill has been introduced in the state Senate that would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to use or possess a cellphone.

The bill, S.212, would make such possession or use a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

It said cellphone use while driving is one of the leading killers of teenagers. It also said young people use cellphones frequently to bully and threaten each other, something that has been linked to suicides.

“The Internet and social media, accessed primarily through cell phones, are used to radicalize and recruit terrorists, fascists, and other extremists. Cell phones have often been used by mass shooters of younger ages for research on previous shootings,” the bill reads.

The bill said the Legislature has concluded those under 21 years old “aren’t mature enough” to possess guns, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol and the same should apply to cellphone use. The state recently increased the smoking age to 21 and barred those under 21 from buying a gun unless they take a hunter safety course.

The bill was introduced by Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans. Rodgers said Wednesday he introduced the bill to make a point.

“I have no delusions that it’s going to pass. I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself,” he said.

He said he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and the Legislature “seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights.”

He said, based on the information presented in the bill, a cellphone is much more dangerous than a gun.

The bill talks about suicide and suicide prevention was a major talking point when the Legislature passed a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period to buy a handgun. Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the legislation and it’s not expected to be taken up again this session.

Michelle Fay is the executive director of Voices for Vermont’s Children, an organization based out of Montpelier that promotes public policy that enhances the lives of children and youth in the state.

Fay issued a statement saying, “There are so many critical issues impacting the lives of working families in Vermont today, from increasing minimum wage to implementing equitable family and medical leave insurance programs to establishing an office of child advocate. We urge the Legislature to focus on the important work at hand instead of getting tied up in hollow diversions.”

She said in an interview Wednesday there’s no question technology plays a role with children treating each other badly, but isolating cellphones doesn’t seem to make sense because they will still be able to use computers.

“It feels like a reach, for sure,” she said.

Fay said parents rely on cellphone access to be able to get in touch with their kids. She said most of the calls teen drivers receive come from their parents.

She said it’s already against the law to text and drive. Fay said there need to be more conversations about distracted driving.

“For teenagers, people in their car is a bigger distraction than cellphones,” she said.

She said giving children conflict resolution skills and helping them feel more accountability for each other will help avoid cyberbullying.

eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

(55) comments

Noneofyourbuisness

About 2 years ago when i was in 7th grade i helped a kid that though she meant nothing to anyone. I was the only one that she would talk to when she wanted to kill her self. I would stay up long nights just to make sure to she would make it to the next day. My phome was the only way i could talk to her. What if me or another kid found another kid that felt that they wanted to kill them selves. Who would they go to? Most of them are scared to tell their parents. About 12 months ago she was at school and was in the bathroom and had a small razor blade. She just pushed me away and i had no idea that any of this was going on. She did something i stoped for about a year. Then she did it anyway. I tried and ended up doing what i was trying to do.

iklwa

Ultimately, her possession of a cell phone did not prevent her tragic suicide.

This poor girl needed professional help. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not substitutes for professional help. Mechanical devices are no substitute for professional help.

The phone should have been used to tell someone else...like her parents, a school councilor or local mental health folks.

My heart goes out to you, her parents and her family.

WILL

this bill would be violating the 5th amendment so he must be a democrat

Dumb123

This is so dumb what happens if Someone get kidnapped or raped how are minors going to try and contact anyone to get help they can’t call the police or anything anything could happen and that’s basically saying that there not going to be protected at least let them have a flip phone and ban smart phones for minors if your going to ban anything with phones

CookjF

Stupid

Nope_200

HOW much HOWWW much would you like to bet the suicide rate of teens would go up by atleast 2%-4% which would probably be more than what you’re trying to blame phones for first of all phones give teens access to suicide hotline and many more resources and how many teens do you think there are that have no friends at school or get bullied and only have access to healthy friendships through Snapchat or other apps on phones and how many teens do you think have online relationships and would quite literally never be able to talk to their gf/bfs ever again

PrincessBride

Kids under the age of 21 don't need smartphones-period. A flip "dumb phone" to make calls and text message is adequate. As for the texting while driving--adults are guilty of this. MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYBE if the bill were modified to reflect what I am posting it would pass.

PapaUmMaoMao

Now hold the phone there just a minute! This sounds like a 1st Amendment violation... Freedom of Speech!?!

iklwa

If, “…the Legislature has concluded those under 21 years old “aren’t mature enough” to possess guns, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol and the same should apply to cellphone use.”

Then, how can democrat-controlled states across our nation be pushing for 16-year-olds’ voting rights???

The Good Lord knows what we need is more maturity in American politics, not less!

ax2m

This bill is moronic. Typical political knee-jerk pablum for the masses.

Instead of working with what's readily available to achieve an admirable goal... reduce accidents caused by distracted teens... let's pass another painfully unnecessary bill !!

There are currently numerous effective ways to safeguard or restrict cell phone usage of minors. However, each relies upon a mysterious and ancient concept...

...parental involvement.

My children are all involved in various extracurricular activities. We must have communication options for coordinating rides, emergency situations, etc. We use software tools ("apps" for iPhone users) to monitor and restrict usage while driving. We also enforce usage rules that we expect to be followed. They also know there's very specific consequences if they break those rules.

My 18 year old daughter earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Vermont from one of these extracurricular activities. Her cell phone is a crucial tool when our home state is 900 miles away.

In my experience, the state of Vermont seems mostly reasonable and down to earth. Like the US fly-over states. But cultural and political islands like Burlington and Montpelier dominate the state's outward political perception.

For example, Vermont has always been a constitutional-carry state (and continues to be) they neither issue or require permits to carry a weapon openly or concealed. As such, I would find it hard to believe that this bill would ever pass a state test if brought to vote.

josh

Ironic that the motto "Live Free or Die" borders your state. Legislators found guilty of proposing legislation that directly contradicts the constitution should be barred from public office for life.

Klesko

And the liberals want to give more power to the government so that they can deeper govern individuals own responsibilities and actions.

WILL

THIS MAKES NO SENCE CAUSE GUNS DO WAY MORE DAMAGE THAT A PHONE DOES AND IT IS ILLEGAL TO PREVENT SOMEONE FROM CALLING THE POLICE FOR HELP AND WHAT IF YOUR STRANDED SOMEWHERE AND YOU NEED A WAY HOME OR TO LEAVE AN UNHEALTHY ENVIORMENT NOW THERE ARE GOOD POINT BUT NOT TO COMPLETELY BAN PHONES CAUSE THEY ACT AS MEDICAL DEVICES TO SOME PEOPLE AND IF YOU GET IN A WRECK AND THERE IS NO ONE AROUND HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO CALL FOR HELP AND IF YOU DONT HAVE A CAR AND U GET LEFT BY YOUR FRIENDS OR SOMEONE YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO GET HOME SOMEHOW AND WITH OUT A PHONE HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO THAT AND ITS A PARENTS DESCION IF THEIR CHILD SHOULD GET A PHONE NOT THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS A POINTLESS WAIST OF TIME AND WE COULD BE PASSING BILLS TO STOP THE USE OF HERION AND OTHER DRUGS BUT NO WERE WAISTING TIME TRYING TO PASS A BILL TO KEEPS PEOPLE FROM THEIR HEALTH AND THEIR RIGHTS

Bob P

You should look at the stats from accidents caused by distracted driving in people under 21, as compared to unlawful gun use by people under 21.

iklwa

Far, far more teens die from auto related accidents than from firearms.

Almost a third more teens die of auto accidents than suicide and homicide combined.

As to "needing a phone", there are many folks wandering around with phones these days. Most any would be thrilled to help a hapless stranded teen or someone having a medical emergency.

TheRealist

Our heartfelt sorrows go to the victims of the heinous and dastardly crime this bill addresses. Although our words mean little to the survived families, we hope that our thoughts and payers will lesson their suffering by even a fraction and that they take solace in fact that justice will come to those that seek to use a mobile phone in such an evil manner in the future. R.I.P. Angry Birds

dwstick

“Mommy, can I get some cigarettes?”

“No, son. They’re dangerous and you’re only 10. You’re not old enough.”

“Mommy, can I get a cellphone?”

“No, son. They’re dangerous and you’re only 1. You’re not old enough.”

“Mommy, can I get female hormone injections and have my body surgically altered, so that I can become that little girl you’ve always wanted?”

Sure, son! You’re old enough to make that choice!”

PrincessBride

That's the size of it.

ax2m

spoons made me fat

Colby Paul

These kids would be totally fine if they knew what we went through in the era of Modern Warfare 2 lobbies

George Orwell

"The bill said the Legislature has concluded those under 21 years old “aren’t mature enough” to possess guns, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol and the same should apply to cellphone use."

Then they certainly shouldn't be allowed to vote.

PrincessBride

Or drive a car.

iklwa

10-4 Good Buddy!

Skippy

Which is "funny" because the young and dumb tend to vote for these fascists..

ax2m

Can you name a fascist in American politics?

Careful... While it's fashionably-popular to define fascists as right-wing racists, when applying the actual principles of fascism, created soley by Benito Mussolini and philosopher Giovanni Gentile, BERNIE SANDERS would be the closest thing to an actual fascist on any current political platform. Bernie Sanders is a Fabian Socialist or "Progressive" Liberal.

"For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism (Classical liberalism always signifying individualism) it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State. —Benito Mussolini, The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism"

This definition comes from the person that actually coined the word "fascism" and authored the doctrine of "fascism". Many lazily refer to the politically-propagandized opinion-based definitions of fascism found in sources like Wikipedia and the Antifa movement (militant fascists that conveniently call their opponents "fascists").

Fascism is merely the framework by which the fascist state defines itself. The fascist then lives and serves only the will of the fascist state. The fascist state decides how.

iklwa

Bernie and Cortez both qualify.

The first definition of being fascist is one who would allow private ownership of business that would be centrally controlled by the Government.

Listen to Mussolini and Hitler.

Mao, Stalin and Lenin were a flat out dictators espousing communist doctrine.

No one preaching individual freedom and regulated capitalism can be accurately classified as fascist.

The term socialist has historically been used as camouflage in order to found a fascist or dictatorial government.

Never in the history of man has a communist or socialistic system truly been successful. They promote large scale suffering and death among their populations.

Impstout

Some of the commenters should go back and read the complete story. The bills creator is not a liberal or a democrat. He's republican, and he is trying to make a point about the new law making 21 the legal age to buy or own a gun.

George Orwell

Yes, people should reread the story:

"The bill was introduced by Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans"

Ronin2868

Although you are correct that he is trying to make a point about how stupid the gun laws are, he is still a democrat. "The bill was introduced by Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans"

surfside 6

Knock it off liberals! Always banning everything. You live your whole lives harking after somebody elses business don't ya? But just like guns, freedom, the United States and a million other things you don't like, cell phones are here, and they are here to stay!!!

DJfromTheMidwest

“ those under 21 years old “aren’t mature enough” to possess guns, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol”. But mature enough to vote and die for their country???

Abdul Rufus

All the proposed laws to inhibit/prevent some type of bullying, antisocial behavior, and mass shootings are totally missing the root causes of these activities. It's not the cellphone or the gun that causes this human behavior. This behavior is caused by a progressively steep decline of the culture itself, and the breakdown of the family unit. The majority of kids born today are out of wedlock, and are raised by single parents or relatives. Many children do not get discipline, and are not taught how to be responsible for their actions, or respect for authority. The culture is caustic and full of debauchery, violence, profanity, and dark messages. The inanimate object is not the problem it's what's wrong within out society.

ShockTheVote

The increase in yocal governments restricting people who have reached the age of majority from purchasing and/or using legal products will be an interesting fight when it reaches the Supremes someday.

Se1ene

Lets see.... its "already against the law" for felons and the mentally ill to have guns... safety training and enforcing existing laws (accountability) will "help avoid' gun violence... isolating (guns) "seems like such a stretch" ....

Animeace

Can't wait for this local interest piece - "5 year who old saved her grandmother by calling 911 from a cellphone is sentenced to 8 months."

Johngalt

Wow now the liberals don’t want you to have cell phones . Hmmmm . Keep voting for tyrant Democrats geniuses.

DJfromTheMidwest

But they want 16 year-olds to vote. That’s consistent.

Impstout

He's not a liberal. Sorry. Read the article

Ronin2868

"The bill was introduced by Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans" Pretty sure he is a liberal. But in this case, he is making fun of how stupid the proposed gun laws are. I applaud him for that.

Jorr1234

Guns aren’t dangerous phones aren’t dangerous it’s the scumbags that are behind the gun behind the phone

Colby Paul

Exactly think about it do guns kill people or do people kill people? And they should invest more time and money into mental health because if you look at EVERY single U.S. mass shooting mental health was determined to be a major factor. I'm just saying Physiological Batteries would be better along with additional and deeper background checks.

Sekkenlife

When did VT become a state that thought they had the right to parent the young? It is not the place of the government to decide who can and can not have a phone. That is a right of the people. It is a PARENTS place to decide if a child can have one or not. No cellphones in cars when you drive, yes fine ok that makes scene. NO cellphones in schools, you got it. They shouldn't be in classrooms anyhow. But to try an tell people they have to be so old to use a phone is wrong. That like saying 'Your not 21 no payphone or landline for you! You can't make phone calls!' You worried about Apps on the phone or the net. They use guild lines for compiles the require they to keep apps child should not have from being show to them. Or have them sell cellphones with out internet. There other ways to deal with this without taking way peoples rights. This very disappointing, shame on you for thinking this was ok.

JenG

Most comments seem to show people read headlines, not the full news article. It’s too bad John Rodgers likes to waste people’s time with his nonsense. In my opinion, hunters safety for minors is to guns what drivers ed is to vehicle operation. Nothing more, nothing less, no infringement of rights. Make sure you know how to use one before you have your own to operate unattended if you are under a certain age. Beyond that age do as you please.....

J Heath

I would like to say not all cell phone use is bad for kids. My Son is a type 1 diabetic (autoimmune disorder) he has been since he was a young child. His pancreas makes no insulin it gets it from a pump he wears on his body. It means constant carb counting and calculating insulin doses that he programs into his pump. It’s not type 2 and there is no cure. He even needs insulin when he’s sick because his body produces none. Many things affect blood sugar, stress, temperature, exercise etc. the list is long you always need to be watching and on guard for shift of high blood sugars as well as lows and sometimes you do everything by the book and still blood sugar can not cooperate. He wears a device on his arm Called a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor (approved by the FDA so he doesn’t need to finger stick and he can know where his blood sugar is at all times in between). This transmits his blood sugar number every five minutes to his Cell phone which than transmits that information to a cloud where I can see the numbers on my phone. We text back and forth about his numbers and what he might need to do for himself. Therefore, this cellphone is a medical device to him. It helps make sure he does not go to low and pass out or too high and get really sick. It keeps him healthy and allows him to play sports and carry on with normal life activities even with a chronic illness. It also allows someone like myself to keep track of his numbers and it allows him to text me when he needs help. Banning a cellphone for him would be banning him from using the medical technology that saves him every day and keeps his blood sugars in better range so he doesn’t have other medical problems.

Nope_200

Aw I’m sorry to hear about your son and as someone who this law would apply to if it were passed I would hope that people who need their phones for medical reasons would not be affected

Jewelz

My 15 year old niece is a Diabetic. She has a pump that connects to the phone and she sends info on to her mother. I think it is up to the parents to monitor a child’s usage and not the government. Also, you take away their phone for bullying, will you take lap tops, iPods or other electronic devices away that they can bully with as well?

blumavric

With pay phones not available it is a law that is unsafe. Cell phones have become a life live in a emergency. A youth with a phone and it’s proper use is a parental issue not a government issue. It is in law that the courts of law to any minor child is to support a least restrictive condition and a safe environment. There is also a law that is a class d felony for preventing someone from calling 911 in a emergency situation. Taking the ability to call for help away is against that law what is federal law so why is a state able to make a law that would violate that?

Pattymr

What an idiotic bill, not to mention a clear violation of civil liberties, and would endanger MORE people who would then be unable to call for help! It would mean it's ok to possess a gun, but not a cell phone? Ridiculous and a waste of State Legislative time that could be put to much better use. If my representative votes in favor of this, I will NOT voting for them in the future.

Bob P

Kind of like enacting gun laws that only hurt legal gun owners, not criminals.

Bob P

It really is not idiotic if you really read and follow what he is saying. He is only doing this to make a point, he knows it is going nowhere.

DJfromTheMidwest

I other words; wasting time and state resources for self aggrandizement and attention.

George Orwell

Introducing a bill that won't pass and saying even he wouldn't vote for it is a stupid, childish waste of time.

Nope_200

YES oh my god like teens who might need access to suicide hotline or something they would have nobody their to tell them that someone loves them and there is hope for them and they should keep fighting

RayLynn

I'm totally against it. My kid had a phone and is responsible because I have remote access to it without her knowledge and if I need to call/text for any reason I know I can reach her. This bill is stupid. Teach your kid not to be jerks and responsible!

Bob P

Did you really read it and see his reasoning for it ? All the legal law abiding gun owners should not be penalized for what the illegal gun owners and criminals do.

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