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Privacy Versus Security Camera Systems

surveillance cameras in schools

When it comes to dealing with surveillance and security cameras, many people are concerned about their privacy. Many schools have been installing cameras to makes sure that the students are safe. They want to be able to keep tabs on all the students and anyone else who may be entering or leaving the school property. Business put up cameras to stop people from stealing from stores and even to help prevent employee theft. Some people even protect their homes with surveillance systems. Regardless of how many positives there may be about having these cameras up, there will always be some people who feel that it’s an invasion of their privacy.

Camera systems may end up costing a lot of money. Some of the higher end IP camera systems can cost well over $1000 for homes or small businesses. Larger businesses and schools sometimes need systems that can cost all the way up in the $100,000’s. It may not feel great having to spend that kind of money on a system, but having the peace of mind that it’s helping deter crime is priceless. Having cameras up can definitely make people think twice before committing a crime.

Even with these benefits, installing surveillance cameras can become highly controversial. There have been many protests as well as legal action surrounding the installation of cameras in places like schools all over the world, and there are definitely many things for schools to think about before installing their systems.

One of the important things for school s to figure out is what do they want to accomplish with their camera system installation. Are they trying to scare students into behaving well? Are they trying to capture every little student infraction?

These are important questions that many parents want answered. The ACLU has even provided some evidence to students to show that studies have proven cameras don’t prevent crime. Students were supposed to feel safe with camera installations but have admitted to feeling like they’re being watched instead. They have found that a lot of thefts and infractions may occur inside of locker rooms or in areas where students aren’t being watched such as the bathrooms. Cameras are not allowed to be installed in those areas so one of the questions asked to administrators was who would they be interrogating if a student did something wrong, but there were many students in the locker room at the time. Would they interview every student who walked out of the locker room? One of the administrators responded with, “We know who the bad kids are” but with that type of argument, why would they need cameras to prove anything then.

Personally, I feel that you can at least know which students were there during or after the incident even though you may not be able to see it take place. There are times where a student may deny being in that location at the time of the incident and at least with camera systems to show them in the area, they can prove that the student was lying. I have seen many cases where people will lie about an incident until they hear that it was caught on camera. Even though this works for certain instances, there are others that still make parents weary about having surveillance cameras installed in the schools that their children attend.

Another problem that worries some parents is whether or not the cost of these systems are going to take away from money that is supposed to go towards the educational materials that schools need to purchase. What they don’t usually understand is that a lot of schools have separate funds which are used for things like surveillance cameras than are used for educational materials needed.

Cameras can be great tools but only if used sensibly. If a school administrator decides that he wants to install cameras in the school, the best option would be to involve the parents and the students in order to avoid any issues.

In 2007 there was an administrator at Newton South High School who decided to install some cameras outside of the locker room without letting anyone else know and when people began to find out about them, it cause a huge problem with the faculty, students, and parents. Being up front and honest about where cameras are being installed and why will go a long way and can help avoid any of these controversial issues.

In 2003 there were girls who found out they were being video taped while in their underwear inside the Livinston Middle School, Tennessee, locker rooms because of cameras that had been installed in there. It turned into a huge scandal and 24 students ended up going to court against the school which ultimate ended in a ruling that cameras are no longer allowed to be installed within the locker rooms of schools.

There is definitely a huge benefit in having open communication about having cameras. There are a lot of administrators that deal with parents who are completely anti-surveillance equipment and others who feel that cameras are the solution to all the issues. I feel that neither of them are right because there is a happy medium. Also, well-trained staff and security teams are a bigger help in preventing incidents from occurring.

Having systems in public places can make people feel like they’re not being trusted. It creates that certain time of atmosphere where people feel like they’re constantly being watched because the powers that be don’t feel they should be trusted to do the right thing.

Others feel like having cameras as a temporary solution is better. There was a school where students were tying chains to the doors and running them back to their jeeps, then ripping the doors off the building. The felt the need to install cameras just until they could find out who was doing this and as a result they ended up finding that vandalism at the school went down by about 95%.

At the end of the day, students don’t lose all of their rights as soon as they enter those school doors. The best solution is to really think about the situation and come up with many different solutions to solving the problem in order to avoid unnecessary lawsuits or controversy.

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