School Security Cameras – Do Studies and Surveillance Mesh?

Do security cameras belong in schools?

The answer to this continues to be the subject of heated debates. Parents and legislators are all for the installation of school security cameras while students and teachers vehemently oppose it. The issue is one that strikes a very powerful chord in schools everywhere, and echoes the dilemma that confront lawmakers on a national scale. Which is more important – safety or personal privacy?

Why the Need for School Security Cameras?

In recent years, the school has been the setting of many tragic and violent incidents. To prevent further bloodshed, educators and legislators have united to make schools safe once more. Some of the strategies that sprang from the collaboration include the deployment of a full-time security officer in school buildings. Another is training students how to handle potentially explosive situations involving their peers. A third, and certainly the most controversial, strategy is the placement of school security cameras.

What Are School Security Cameras?

School security cameras are cameras placed in key areas within school grounds. These cameras use a recording system that allows easy storage, easy recall, and even easier viewing from different monitors, either individually or simultaneously. School security cameras monitor activities taking place within their viewing range. A school personnel or a police officer keeps track of recorded images.

Benefits of School Security Cameras

Supporters of the move claim that school security cameras serve as a good crime deterrent. Because students know that they are being watched, they will not engage in vandalism, for example, or physically hurtful acts. In addition, school security cameras will alert authorities to potentially difficult situations. For instance, security guards can see that a brawl is about to take place, and, therefore, intervene before the fighting even starts.

Another benefit of installing school security cameras is that it provides concerned authorities with evidence that is not likely to be available anywhere else. Because footage is monitored on a regular and timely basis, suspicious activity, criminal or otherwise, can be spotted in a timely manner.

Drawbacks of Installing School Security Cameras

Opponents of the scheme to install school security cameras, on the other hand, aver that school security cameras do not make students and teachers any safer. Everyone knows where the cameras are. Thus, eluding the cameras won’t be a problem to someone intending to do a teacher or a student harm.

Another con of school security cameras is cost. The cost of setting up and maintaining a network of school security cameras can be very prohibitive. Thankfully, prices of surveillance equipment have dramatically dropped in recent years, and it is now possible to purchase the necessary apparatus without breaking the bank.

The most emphatic reason given, however, is that school security cameras will trample people’s rights to privacy. In the wrong hands, video footage of unsuspecting students and teachers can be used disastrously.

Experts believe that school security cameras will help schools return to the beautiful, idyllic learning institutions they once had been. Critics of school security cameras, on the other hand, assert that surveillance will not help curb violence in schools. As a matter of fact, it might even encourage violence because it sends out the message that the school is a potential crime scene, not a community of teachers and learners who can resolve conflict constructively.

It is safe to say that debates over the use of school security cameras will continue to rage for many more years to come. Safety will always be everyone’s paramount concern. The pursuit of safety, however, should not be at the cost of the basic human rights to privacy, free speech, and association.

Natasha M. McKnight

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