The Pros and Cons of School Surveillance

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How to find the right security balance for our kids

School should be one of the safest places of all. As institutions devoted to the progress of our children, they shouldn't give parents any pause as far as security goes. In reality, one in three parents in America are deeply concerned about bullying in schools, with one in four worrying about school violence.

Some parents also fear their child's school will suffer from overbearing security measures aimed at preventing bullying and other, greater dangers. This is why positive communication about the benefits of sensible surveillance is so important. Accepting reality may require us to alter our comfort zones – but these changes ultimately make school a safer and healthier place for our kids.

The causes for safety concerns

This in-depth document by the National Center for Education Statistics presents the many negative issues that can affect students on school grounds. It's a sobering insight into how vandalism, bullying/hate crimes, illegal firearms, alcohol, drugs, and sexual offences threaten students and staff. Thankfully, the same study records an increase in school security measures and, in general, a decrease in these negative events. However, it's difficult to know the true statistics without proper surveillance, as many problems may go unseen or unreported by victims.

The argument against surveillance

A violation of privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is typically cited as an anti-surveillance response. There may be a privacy debate, but there can hardly be an argument against every child's right to safety.

Some parents and educators feel that surveillance in schools will create an authoritarian atmosphere; one which sends messages to the students that the worst is expected both of and around them. In this argument, students who believe they're bad may just start acting like it, and good students may come to school with a sense of apprehension. A counterargument is that surveillance has been shown to deter bad behavior, and clear policies and proper communication about surveillance – including what it will be used for – can allay the concerns of all students.

A logical look

As any parent will attest, their child's well-being is paramount, and we send our kids to school with the implicit understanding that they will be closely supervised throughout their day. Proper school security is precisely that: a proactive and positive choice which provides far more than it might remove. This is why taking all necessary steps in educational safety is not only legitimized, but inherently expected from administrators and faculty.

This moral and professional mandate aside, premises liability is also a strong argument for surveillance. Educators and the government are legally required to protect those on school property from risk and danger, and potentially liable if they don’t.

The safe solution of integrated school security

Acknowledging these causes for concern is an important step in communicating the positive aspects of security and explaining the solutions to achieve them. Here are some security measures designed to increase safety:

  • School Front-Door Security Solution: The most obvious place to secure is at the top of our list. Implementing an integrated system of visitor management software, access control, and digital video surveillance allows for complete identification and control of all incoming people to a school. Entry can be through a secured vestibule which not only records and IDs legitimate visitors through remote surveillance, but also acts a detainment protocol in the event of an intruder.
  • Attendance Management Solution: This empowering feature eliminates the need for manual time sheets and keeps accurate attendance reports which allow staff to monitor which students are currently in school, and to customize those records according to name, class, arrival time, and more. This solution also accounts for the presence of staff in the building(s) or across campus. This ability to take an immediate head count of students and staff is especially valuable in the event of a school emergency.
  • Managed Services: Interactive and customizable, managed services incorporate safeguards such as remote monitoring (an off-site security team who manages all entry, exit and activity at your location), video alarm verification (confirming the legitimacy of issues as they arise), and the ability for staff to access school footage in real time through Internet-connected devices. This is a highly cost-effective approach to school safety that can augment on-site security personnel or reduce the need for additional staff.

No matter the size of your school, college or university, these features can cover the campus and be managed from one central location. Internal communications between staff and students are hugely improved thanks to mass notification systems (another vital feature in the event of an emergency). The possibilities are numerous and versatile.

Security awareness on campus and in the community

Mid-October sees the National School Safety Center operating America's Safe Schools Week. If you're an educator, here is an excellent overview of their program which includes a wealth of insights and planning ideas that apply year-round. Their website also offers many other free safety resources. The National Institute of Justice offers their own recommended reading and further information on how to create an effective school safety initiative.

A professional security integrator for your campus

Parents have a responsibility to monitor their children's safety at home. For educators, the weight of that responsibility multiplies by hundreds or thousands of students. While there are usually necessary compromises to be made to achieve security, our next generation, their teachers, and the schools they attend deserve the best in modern security and risk prevention. You can download our free 4-page summary or meet us on YouTube to see the best security systems in action.

At Peace of Mind Technologies, we provide the strongest school security from first consultation to installation and maintenance. To discuss your needs, you can call us at (212) 688-2767, email at info@pom-tec.com, or complete our contact form for a free consultation.