[deleted account] ( 11 moms have responded )
This is a debate about privacy, and the extent to which the state can invade the private life of its citizens. Although it may seem unimportant, the school locker is usually the only private space available to a student in the communal environment of the school, and so it focuses many of the issues involved in privacy debates.
This is usually thought of as an American issue, but it could apply in any country and the arguments could also be transferred from school lockers to desks and lockers in the adult workplace. The rights to privacy claimed in this debate find expression in two key documents: Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." 4th Amendment to the US Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." In the USA this became an issue at the highest level with the 1980 Supreme Court case, New Jersey v T.L.O. The law differs from state to state as to whether reasonable suspicion is required before an individual student’s locker can be searched, or whether blanket/random searches can be carried out.