Surveillance Cameras in Schools
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By Lucy Protnoff
You walk casually out of class and grab your backpack that is sitting outside of the room. Reaching for your iPhone tucked inside the pocket, panic arises in your chest as you sift through your contents discovering only empty space. Where is the phone?

Gone - snatched from your bag which was lying vulnerable outside the classroom. Stolen... right on school property.

Sound familiar? This is a typical tale of what often happened over the past few years at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette. Honest students lost their possessions to those who steal. Lack of security at Stanley made taking valuables such as phones, wallets, and bikes unbelievably easy due to specifically vulnerable areas on campus. In locations where there was little or no adult supervision, unattended backpacks were prime targets of theft.

Vandalism was also a prominent problem for several years costing the school district significant amounts of money that could have been used for educational pursuits. Many nights per week, custodians spent their limited time removing graffiti instead of attending to other aspects of their jobs.
This year, in the hopes of eradicating this predicament, the Lafayette School Board made the decision to install security cameras on campus. With eyes all around the school, the administration can now view and record any acts of vandalism or theft around the clock by reviewing the footage when a theft is reported or vandalism is apparent.

The hope is that the few who do steal or vandalize will be caught, penalized, and prevented from harming people and property. Cameras may also serve as a deterrent to future problems.

Most students at Stanley regard the security cameras as a great idea. Eighth grader Sara Koenigsberg agrees that the security cameras will without a doubt be the key to reducing student theft. "I think the security cameras are a good plan because they put the belongings of students at less of a risk of being stolen," she says.

While Koenigsberg seems to represent the majority of teens' opinions on the matter, there are some who have their doubts.

"Security cameras take away our privacy," states a male student at Stanley. A few like him agree that the constant surveillance may make the most innocent students feel nervous, like Big Brother is watching. School is designed to be a safe learning environment, and no child should feel insecure. But because the district has assured that footage will not be viewed on a regular basis and only at a time when a situation arises, it can be argued that invasion of privacy will be minimal.

It is unfortunate that school funding must be used to buy surveillance equipment instead of being used to more directly contribute to learning. Perhaps this is the price that our community must pay in our possession-obsessed culture.

Educators, parents, and most students agree the security cameras will be a major advantage to insuring the safety of the students and school. The ultimate goal is to fight vandalism, theft, and other crimes to allow the students to concentrate on their education instead of on their belongings.

Lucy Portnoff, a ninth-grader at Miramonte High School, is a member of Club Be the Star You Are!(r), part of the Public Speaking and Mock Trial programs. Lucy enjoys art and music.

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