Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Peekaboo, we see you!

This week, the student newspaper at one of the two high schools in our city broke a story about installing 5 security cameras in the hallways. The hope of the school officials was to keep an eye on the traffic in areas with vandalism and theft problems. Several of the boy's bathrooms at the very large and meandering school campus have had bad vandalism problems, with sinks being pulled out of the walls, toilets purposely stopped up, and of course the inevitable writing on the walls. At one point, several of the bathrooms were locked up in order to keep the vandalism to a minimum.

In addition, theft is rampant within the student population. The popular items are cell phones, IPods, and calculators, but clothing, shoes, and other items left in backpacks and in lockers in the boy's gym have also been stolen. There isn't a week that goes by without a report of some theft within the school, and reliable sources tell me that there are kids who steal and then resell Ipods as a business. Ahem.

With that kind of student problem, the school officials deemed it necessary to have several hidden cameras installed. Five of them, to be exact. All of the cameras are in high traffic areas outside in the hallways. They are not located in locker rooms or bathrooms. They are there to protect the students.

But as usual, the fear mongers are out and breathing fire on the local newspaper's blog about Civil Rights and illegalities that don't exist. It's always the same cast of characters, the loser architect whose design wasn't chosen for the new high school, the loser that ran for Mayor and lost, the losers who support the most rabid Republican right wing thought and cry for the School Superinendent to resign every time he takes a breath. Every week they write the letters and post their rants about the lastest news in town, and guess what? They're always up in arms! They can't believe how bad it is to live in our fair city.

This latest transgression, the installation of security cameras, cameras that have not even been turned on yet, has got these folks frothing at the mouth. They just can't believe the injustice! Horrors. Yet as a parent with kids in this school, I don't have a problem with it at all. What these rabid complainers have forgotten is that the school is filled with minor children. Children who have very little ability to control their impulses at this age. Anyone who has parented a teen knows how impulsive they are. They forget that they know stealing is wrong. If they see something they can grab, many of them will.

One person posted on the town newspaper's blog that parents in our city can just buy their kids new items if something was stolen. Well, no, they can't. I sure can't, and most of my kid's friends parents can't either. Sure we live in a rich fancy suburb. But that doesn't mean that everyone is rich enough to keep replacing IPhones or IPods that have been stolen. And that attitude of entitlement just floors me. What a freaking jerk!

My kids know about the cameras. Now everyone at the school does, too. Although the way the cameras were installed, secretly, in the middle of the summer, leaves a lot to be desired, the deal is, we live in a world where security cameras are a fact of life. Every retail establishment, every bank, every supermarket has them. They're covering street corners looking for errant drivers. They're in universities, and unsurprisingly they're in high schools all over the country. They're not being used to spy on kids in bathrooms or locker rooms, they're being used to keep a record of who is in the halls at a given time for security purposes.

It's a shame that schools need to be made more secure. But I'd much rather security cameras than metal detectors and police presence all over the school. Honestly, it seems to me that the people who are the most upset are those desperately trying to make their mark on the city, but have such unpopular stances that they just keep failing. I believe the best thing is for them to look inward and try to see why they are rejected over and over again. I've tried to tell at least one of them, but he can't listen.

What say you about this topic? Would you be upset if security cameras were installed in your kid's school?

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Blogger Daisy said...

Are you sitting down? My elementary school, the one in which I teach, has security cameras. Sad? As an indictment on our society, yes. I'd rather see the money used elsewhere, but on the balance, we can't put a price on children's safety.

26/12/07 9:12 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Exactly. So what's with these people who scream about civil rights like they've never heard of security cameras before? It boggles the mind!

26/12/07 9:44 PM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

Our high school has them and I'm fine with it. We've had similar issues in our locker rooms as well.

26/12/07 11:01 PM  
Anonymous bethany actually said...

I wouldn't have a problem with it at all. It would make me feel better to know my kids were aware of the cameras, which might make them think twice before doing something stupid.

26/12/07 11:35 PM  
Blogger Sechakecha said...

My highschool had video cameras in it. And a security guard to watch the cameras at all times. Pre-Columbine, we didnt' have them. But once columbine happened, they took a look at our school, and the safety of our school ~ it isn't very safe because it's 3 schools, with a combined hallway, that the main offices couldn't see when someone walked in. Anyone could just wander into the high-school. So they fixed it. And no one cared, because they wanted their children to be safe.

We also have rent-a-cops walking around the school with guns, for any problems that may occur. And same thing, no one had any problem with it. I'd rather the children be safe, and happy. They're children ~ as we were told when I was in high school, we have no freedom in school. It's school property, and they can do whatever they want.

27/12/07 8:34 AM  
Blogger Fratzels said...

I'm with you. These kids obviously need security cameras if they are going to act like little hodlums. It's a shame it needs to be done, but now they are facing the reality of suffering the consequences of their own actions. It prepares them for real life when we are actually held accountable for our actions.

27/12/07 4:09 PM  
Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

I'm all for security in schools, and if it comes in the form of cameras, then so be it. Better to lose some privacy than to lose belongings, and even lives.

My question is--do they have someone sitting in a room all day somewhere, watching the screens to see what happens, or is it taping for replay later? Replay later won't help much when it comes to attacks of the more serious kind.

27/12/07 6:34 PM  

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