Dec 202015
 December 20, 2015  Surveillance, U.S., Youth & Schools

The South Jersey Times Editorial Board has an editorial that notes that although there are privacy (i.e, FERPA) issues implicated in recording students in the classroom, sometimes it’s the only way we’d find out about the abuse of special needs children.

It’s happened again. A video shows students in a South Jersey classroom being beaten, bullied or mistreated, allegedly by members of the school staff.


Admittedly, privacy issues surround recordings of minors in classrooms, especially minors with disabilities or emotional/behavioral issues. It would be chilling to require that every moment of student-educator interaction be recorded.

Yet, if it’s not legal to make unannounced recordings, the courts and the state Department of Education must find another way to monitor these classes effectively. Perhaps recording can be random, with cameras in the open, but not active all of the time. More frequent in-person monitoring of special-needs classes by administrators could also reveal some long-standing mistreatment.


Remember when districts started putting dummy (non-functioning) cameras on school buses? Did it deter bad behavior when students thought they might be caught on camera? Would it deter inappropriate staff behavior? But of course, if staff knew it was dummy, there’s no deterrence, so there’d need to be at least some real monitoring.

I am already on record as saying that in some circumstances, I am not only okay with, but actually endorse the use of surveillance of kids. Trackers for autistic kids was one example I provided. Abuse by staff is another example. Perhaps the standard/line should be whether the children are capable of recognizing and verbally reporting to their parents what takes place in the classroom or school. If not, they need more protection.

What do you think?

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