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School Surveillance: Why is it a bad idea?

Several middle schools in Muncie, Indianna placed surveillance cams on school grounds.  Reports from school administration claim that the cameras are improving the learning environment by allowing administration to moderate student behaviour.

The first Indiana Schools equipped with cameras were installed in a High school back in 2006.  Through the years several high schools, and now middle schools, joined the program and installed surveillance cameras to track student behavior.

The plan was made in response to the districts highly-criticized handling of a 16 year old girl’s report that she had been raped in Central High School’s restroom.  The district did not notify the police of the case.  It was later claimed that they wanted to investigate the story themselves.  The attacker eventually plead guilty and was sentenced to serve four years in prison.

While it is important to be able to monitor criminal acts performed at school, the monitoring of every day student behaviour is debatable for both moral and educational reasons.  As many as 60 cameras are scattered throughout Wilson Middle School, covering the hallways, stairwells, and walls outside the building.  All cameras are monitored from the administrator’s computers.  School Administration claims that the cameras can assist school officials in verifying a student’s account of an incident, such as if a student claims self-defense in a fight with a fellow student.  While this may occasionally prove helpful, unless the incident is truly criminal, shouldn’t students also be taught the value of truthfulness, and that their words be meaningful and trustworthy?

With schools becoming more and more confined and monitored, it seems more likely that it is not the learning environment that is improving, but the teaching environment.  This is a subtle difference which bears great meaning on the lives of young students, and their school experience.

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