J.D. Tuccille writes:
Rare though they are, horrific events like the Newtown shooting inevitably provoke a variety of responses. The intent is to head off a recurrence of the sort of crime that, truth be told, very likely can’t be completely prevented, if for no other reason than that so many of the perpetrators seemingly have little interest in surviving their deeds. But some of the responses, like encouraging people to take responsibility for defending themselves and those around them, offer the possibility of reducing the damage done by rampage killers. Some responses, like gun restrictions and video-game censorship, put widespread civil liberties at the mercy of opportunistic control freaks. And some responses seem designed to turn public schools into replica prisons. On that last point, I’m talking about Albuquerque’s scheme for multi-school surveillance, centrally monitored at the Albuquerque Public Schools Police headquarters dispatch center.
Read more on Reason.
I suspect many of this blog’s readers do not realize the extent to which surveillance was already being used in public schools prior to the Newtown tragedy. Perhaps an illustration will help:
Several years ago, one of my patients was having a problem in school. Well, many of my patients have problems in school, so that’s nothing new for me, but what was new for me was when the school administrator offered to show me footage. It seems that their surveillance system had captured one incident that they felt was proof/evidence that my patient was engaging in willful conduct.
So I went to the school and with the administrator, viewed the footage (with the parents’ and patient’s consent and release).
I won’t discuss the clinical aspects (suffice to say that the school’s interpretation was not supported by the video), but simply note that I was shocked at the extent of the video surveillance system and wondered how many parents (and students) realized that the students were being captured on video and that those videos might be stored for indefinite amounts of time, depending on the school’s needs – which might have nothing to do with school safety or crime.
Do you know what surveillance is in place in your child’s school? Do you know whether it’s video or video + audio? Do you know who has access to the surveillance and what the retention policies are? Do you know under what conditions the school may share that surveillance evidence with law enforcement?
If not, start asking questions.