Surveillance Cameras in Schools – To be or not to be?
The alarm has gone off. It’s time to wake up. You snuggle back into the warmth of the pillow for just a few more winks of sleep. Your mother is banging on the door to wake you up. Oh Lord, what you wouldn’t give for just a couple of minutes more to shut your eyes! You drag yourself out of the bed cursing the person who ever thought up the idea of schools.
Remember this scenario from the past? The joy and the agony of being a student! Monday morning blues to Friday evening celebrations. From one class to another, one subject to another, with just the recess, this would be too short of course, to offer us some relief. Boring stuff. Schools are the bane of a child’s life. This is the perpetual protest of the child no matter what age they are.
Schools – be it elementary, middle or high schools – are powerhouses of activity. This activity can be both constructive and destructive. If you have ever worked in a school, you would understand that no two days are similar when you are engaged in training young lives to face the challenges of the future. Indeed, it is a never-ending challenge to mold these impressionable minds in the right path.
The school community consists of students from different stratus of society, coming from different social and family backgrounds. And since they are at an age when the wrong path seems much more attractive than towing the line, it’s always an uphill task to keep them from being led astray. And teachers too are humans; they cannot be at all places. This is where surveillance cameras become a mandatory part of the school infrastructure.
“A wise expenditure”
Yes, this seems to be the opinion of Mr JK Johnson, Principal, Orange High School, Orange County, California. Mr Johnson feels that if it would cut down on vandalism and it would be wise decision to install security cameras in schools. “It’s another set of eyes out there to help keep the school safe if something were to happen.” comments Johnson. Terry Piper, the Principal at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Michigan, supports Mr Johnson when he says that schools with surveillance cameras “have seen thefts go down.”
With the increasing cases of vandalism, thefts, fights, bullying, trespassing and gang activity being reported almost daily and where the situation is highly volatile and can worsen at the drop of a hat, cameras have indeed become a necessity in schools. Of course, parents do express concerns of privacy, but don’t you feel that safety and security of students are much more important in the long run?
Officials of schools were cameras like CCTV have already been installed do assert that the crime level has come down as the cameras provide important sources of physical evidence when crimes occur. So, this makes passing the buck a very difficult game to play.
The student view
In most instances, the student community doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about the issue of privacy. Video surveillance systems have helped them to shed their worry about outside violence thereby enabling them to focus much better on what should be their primary concern, studies. Most schools install the camera security system in the parking lots, entrances, stairways, hallways and common areas. The surveillance is done 24 x 7, the year round.
However, the news of security cameras being installed at Groves and Seaholm High School in Oakland County, Michigan saw the students organizing themselves into Students Against Security Cameras (SASC) as they feel that this intrusive third eye would encourage an atmosphere of distrust in the schools. The schools have been forced to keep its decision pending owing to the protests from the students.
The unexpected benefits
Surveillance cameras would of course, deter criminal activities. They would also help leading to confession of crimes that has not been caught on the cameras. And reduced burglary and vandalism means lesser insurance premiums. The concern of privacy can to a large extent be negated by avoiding the recording of audio tracks. And taking the parents and students into confidence can always work to your advantage.
Surveillance cameras may not be the cure-all for crimes in schools, but they to help in curbing the criminal impulses of the young minds.