SEARCH & SEIZURE
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Appropriate for grades 7-12.
One of the most engaging topics for students is their legal rights within a school setting. The following lesson is a perfect vehicle for a discussion of student rights, search and seizure issues and the "delicate balance" between individual freedoms and society's needs.
The purpose of these activities are three-fold. A simple simulation inspired by a teacher's guide to a government text engages students in a search and seizure activity that allows an exploration of students' rights within a school setting. It also leads them into the issues of individual freedoms and society's needs. Finally, it requires the investigation of search and seizure case law.
Students will be able to (orally or in writing):
1. Compare how different people react to a situation.
2. Explain why innocent people do have something to lose when searched.
3. List the specific provisions within the Canadian Constitution.
4. Identify school policy and student legal rights.
5. Differentiate between student rights within a school setting and adult rights.
6. List exceptions to the search warrant requirements.
7. Explain how individual freedoms can conflict with society's needs.
Have students imagine that you have taken the entire class to the library to do research on the Constitution. The girls take their purses with them. At the end of class, one girl screams, "Someone took my wallet!" The only person who could have taken it was in the class.
Break the class into six groups. They are to answer questions posed to them as if they were:
A. The guilty student
B. An innocent boy
C. An innocent girl
D. A girl with a controlled substance on her person
E. A boy with chewing tobacco and cigarettes (illegal in school)
F. The girl who lost the wallet
Pose the following questions for brainstorming and consensus:
A. Should a search of everyone occur? Explain.
B. Who should conduct the search, if one does take place? Does it make a difference?
C. Decide what you will do if a search of all is conducted.
D. Is the Constitution involved here? Explain.
When students are ready have each group answer question A and then do the same for questions B-D. You should generate "I'm innocent and have nothing to fear." Explore that with the students (Should law enforcement be allowed to search when/where they want because innocent people have nothing to fear? Wouldn't that cut down on crime?) You should also get the clever criminal who dumps the wallet and hides the money in a book. (How would the class feel having been subjected to a search that ultimately reveals nothing?) Ask the innocent girl or boy how they would feel if coincidentally they have similar denominations on them. Would they still be comfortable with a search? What about the students who possess illegal items?
Should they get in trouble for what is discovered on them?
Finally, pursue the constitutional angle. What does the Constitution say? Should a search of everyone be conducted immediately? Does the constitution apply to students in a school setting? Do school officials need a warrant? Are they "police"? What would be the most efficient way the solve this? Is that the most just way? Raise the concept of individual freedoms conflicting with society's needs.
Copy of the Constitution.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Students should now appreciate the provisions of the Canadian Constitution and how the Court can take the clear language and find exceptions that pass constitutional muster. Have them relive their simulation. Can they defend being treated differently in a school setting? An essay on some aspect of one of the balancing acts could tie it all together. Or the guest visit by an administrator or school lawyer or a prosecuting attorney would be a fine culminating activity. Perhaps they could be given the simulation and brainstorm the reactions.
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