Surveillance Cameras in the individual classrooms are the answer to a great many problems today’s educators and school systems face today.
We have them in most schools for recording the main hallways & offices, cafeterias, and entry-ways. Most school buses are equipped with them. We just need more, and we need them in the individual classrooms.
Many child care facilities around the nation are making productive use of the available technology in relation to monitoring the classrooms and play areas at these schools. We need to move this tool into the elementary and secondary classrooms as well.
In case you don’t know about this, let me summarize what the day-care centers have that the school systems, public and private, need to obtain-
- Full-color video cameras are set up in the classroom
The director(s) of the facility can access these cameras at any time from any location.
- The “feed” from the cameras is stored off-site, it is a digital media and is stored the way banks store your credit information, so employees/parents cannot tamper with the recordings.
- Parents can pay a fee at a cost potentially around 55 cents a day, to receive a user name and pass code that allows them access only to the areas their child occupies. The cost of this fee can be maintained by the day care or can be run through the surveillance company depending on the set-up of the system. I prefer this latter path, and I will explain why further along.
It’s that simple.
We need a minimum of one camera in every classroom. I suggest 2.
Camera 1 pans the student desk area
Camera 2 follows the teacher and/or records the instructional area.
In this blog I will address the benefits of the camera on decreasing unwanted behaviors. Future blogs will address increasing productivity through camera use (link), rights of privacy for parents/teachers who prefer not to have the room recorded, and cost of this system.
In my previous discussion about School Safety and perceived lack of discipline in schools, information was given that despite a decrease in fighting and theft at school, most adults feel schools lack discipline.
Putting cameras in the classroom will have 2 immediate effects in relation to that statistic
1) Parents will be able to SEE for THEMSELVES that the schools are disciplined, orderly, and safe.
2) Discipline issues from minor classroom infractions like disrespect, horseplay, and off-task behavior to more violent acts of fighting, bullying, and gang-related crime will decrease as parents, teachers, and administrators are able to see first-hand on a daily basis the events taking place in the classrooms and hallways.
There are many articles that reference teachers ignoring bullying, fights, and other hostile interactions between students and between students and teachers. (Link) Having a camera in place will unequivocally record that incident for viewing by parents, teachers, principals, supervisors, police, etc. A teacher cannot physically monitor all student activity at every moment. It isn’t humanly possible to monitor what students in the back of the room are doing as you lean over another student’s shoulder to re-explain how to work a math equation or to rewrite a sentence for an essay. Teachers are typically expected to monitor hallway behavior between classes, standing at the door of the room and somehow simultaneously supervising the classroom behind them and the hallway in front. It is not humanly possible. A camera, however, can.
There are also increasing numbers of claims against teachers for sexual or inappropriate conduct with a minor. A camera would very nearly eliminate this- whether or not the claims are true or false. Having a camera in the classroom, constantly monitoring the room would ensure that no child was alone with a teacher to be placed in a compromising situation. The teacher loses the potential to trap or isolate a student in order to hurt the child, and the student loses the potential to falsely accuse a teacher. Both are real situations and while neither occurs frequently (despite media hype), they don’t have to occur at all. Both can be eliminated with a camera that is recording 100% of the time.
Students frequently blame teachers for discipline issues, poor grades, missing work. While this is typical child-like behavior, it can be easily justified or refuted by a camera. Here’s the situation: The student gets in trouble at school, the teacher calls home or sends home a note, the student tells his guardian, “The teacher picks on me! It’s always just my fault! Other kids are doing it, but I’m the only one who gets in trouble!” This is a non-issue with a camera. There is no sense dragging either a child or a teacher in for a he said/she said conference. Have the conference, yes. Eliminate the “my child said…” vs. “the teacher’s version.” Just pull up the camera footage and play back several days of class time. Either the teacher is ignoring other off-task behavior and focusing in on one particular student or the teacher is not. It is that simple. And I’m not trying to tell you teachers never pick on one child. I’m just telling you we can remove the uncertainty of the situation. We may can remove the situation entirely because an adult, knowing he or she is being monitored, is much less likely to take shortcuts or resort to that base-level behavior. The child, not so much, but that’s part of growing up.
Putting the cameras in more locations does create a “big brother is watching” atmosphere. Is that such a bad thing when we are dealing with watching over the safety and education of our children?
The impact of installing cameras to photograph drivers running red lights has been so effective in cities that use them, the number of accidents have decreased by 24%, in some cases to a level that
“… many of the cities that had installed the cameras as a safety tool have removed those tools because they were no longer profitable.” (link)
Is this a bad thing? NO. Neither will be decreasing undesired behavior in the classrooms and hallways of our schools.