Issues Relating to Security Cameras in Schools
Perhaps one of the most hotly debated topics in the security camera world is that of the ethics of placing security cameras in schools to monitor behavior. As is often the case with public security camera use, people on both sides of the debate are passionate about whether or not it is ethical to trade privacy for safety, especially in an area as sacred as school grounds. While the debate may never end, there are a variety of pros and cons to placing security cameras in our public schools, and both sides have legitimate points.
Pros of Cameras
· Shows Commitment to Safety – One of the reasons schools have become such dangerous places is because schools are often considerably lacking in good safety procedures. There is a high cost to monitoring public schools by professional security staff, and with school budgets at all time lows, hiring more security personnel may not be possible. Cameras are a great way to be at all places at once, so that students, teachers, family and other individuals know that the school is being monitored despite few security officers.
· Deters Student Misbehavior – When students know that their actions are being watched, they are more likely to stay well behaved. It will be difficult for students to roam halls without getting caught, deface property, or bully other students without video evidence of their behavior.
· Cover Hidden Areas – Most schools have some hidden areas that act as a hotbed for misbehavior, or can act as a gateway into the school by unauthorized individuals. These areas can be easily monitored without requiring a security officer to be present.
Cons of Cameras
· Privacy Concerns – While security cameras may be useful for catching illegal behaviors (drug use, violence, etc.), it is not necessarily fair to students for all of their behaviors to be monitored at all times. Less important school policies, like not chewing gum, holding hands, or going to the bathroom without a hall pass will be monitored at all times, despite these policies being irrelevant to the safety of the students. In addition, children are entitled to the same privacy rights as adults, and security monitoring in businesses and other public areas often is met with similar outrage.
· Encourages More Dangerous Avoidance – When the school is monitored, those that still want to break the rules will be encouraged to do so in a more dangerous area off school grounds. This in turn will bring its own inherent dangers, since there will be no one to monitor their safety when they are off school property.
· May Cause Rebellion – Youth are notorious for disobeying rules that seem unfair to them. 24 hour monitoring via security cameras may push these kids towards finding ways to break these rules more publicly and in higher numbers.
There is no right answer in the debate about security cameras in schools. As with most cameras in public places, there is always the risk of abuse, as well as the lack of privacy. Yet as public schools become more dangerous places, monitoring them with cameras is more cost effective for cash starved schools than hiring more security officers. Whatever the outcome, it is likely that neither of these two sides will ever become in full agreement.