The intention of school security camera systems is to curb criminal behavior and increase security within the school premises. Schools generally place cameras near entrances, stairwells, hallways, common areas and parking lots to continually monitor these places. Some critics, however, oppose the use of security cameras in schools because of possible invasion of privacy. When considering security cameras, a school should consider several factors to make a well-informed decision.
Digital technology is rapidly replacing the dated analogue security cameras. Modern security cameras transfer their digital image files to a central computer system in real time. Digital files are also easier to store and recall than VHS tapes. Cameras may feature zoom, pan and tilt options. Some schools use face-recognition camera systems in order to locate any intruders immediately. This technology works by comparing digital photos in the school’s database with the facial features of people on the premises. If the camera can’t “recognize” a face, it will immediately alert security. Schools can also use this system to detect expelled or suspended students and fired employees.
School security cameras prevent theft, property damage and keep outsiders from entering the premises unnoticed. In school crime disputes, recordings from the security cameras can serve as evidence. In some cases, students may even confess to misbehavior that wasn’t even recorded on camera. With security cameras in place, the school’s security staff can do more job-specific work. The camera system now “patrols” the area, while the guards can focus on other security issues, saving the school money in the long run. With a security camera system in place, insurance companies are more likely to offer lower premiums due to a lower risk of burglaries. Teachers and students at schools with security cameras may experience an increased sense of safety knowing that security cameras will scare off any possible intruders.
Putting up a security camera system is a costly exercise. The school will need to pay for all the equipment, the installation and maintenance of the system. After a few years of use, an upgrade or even replacement may be necessary. Unlike security guards who can immediately respond to a security issue during a patrol, security cameras are passive control devices. Even with the cameras rolling, crime can still go by unnoticed if the person who views the recorded material is not paying attention. Adults with access to the system can use the recordings for profiling purposes, targeting certain students because of their gender, race, religion or appearance. A security camera system can also have a negative effect on the morale of students and how they view the school. Students may feel that the school is spying on them and invading their privacy.
When a school installs a security system, the organization should take great care to manage it correctly. The system should not infringe on any privacy rights. For instance, school restrooms and locker rooms may not house any security cameras. Cameras should also not face into private property. Only authorized staff should have access to the recorded material and store it in a secure area. As the material contains personal information, the school should adhere to the legal regulations on handling personal information. The school will also need to implement a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that the system is always in working order.
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