School surveillance: Creating tomorrow’s criminals with today’s paranoia

By | June 13, 2011

‘Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that increasingly have come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning. From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance, the schools of the 21st century reflect a society that has become fixated on crime, security and violence.”

So reads a passage from the opening pages of Lockdown High, a new book by the San Francisco-based journalist Annette Fuentes. Subtitled “When the schoolhouse becomes the jailhouse”, it tells a story that decisively began with the Columbine shootings of 1999, and from across the US, the text cites cases that are mind-boggling: a high-flying student from Arizona strip-searched because ibuprofen was not allowed under her school rules; the school in Texas where teachers can carry concealed handguns; and, most amazingly of all, the Philadelphia school that gave its pupils laptops equipped with a secret feature allowing them to be spied on outside classroom hours.

Just about all the schools Fuentes writes about are united by a belief in that most pernicious of principles, “zero tolerance”. Their scanners, cameras and computer applications are supplied by a US security industry that seems to grow bigger and more insatiable every year. And as she sees it, their neurotic emphasis on security has plenty of negative results: it renders the atmosphere in schools tense and fragile, and in coming down hard on young people for the smallest of transgressions, threatens to define their life chances at an early age – because, as she puts it, “suspensions and academic failure are strong predictors of entry into the criminal justice system”. There is also, of course, the small matter of personal privacy. …

via School surveillance: how big brother spies on pupils | UK news | The Guardian.

5 thoughts on “School surveillance: Creating tomorrow’s criminals with today’s paranoia

  1. Marjorie Kaye

    As a former 10th grade teacher in the Los Angeles Public School System, Big Brother is my hero. Unfortunately I never taught in a classroom that sported one of his prying eyes. Five years of teaching still meant I was new and the shifting of enrollment numbers meant a new school every single frigging year and being assigned the most challenged classes. Each class would have handful of kids who made it miserable. A camera would have been helpful to show rather than to try to explain why you lost it when little Billy told you to sxxk his c@#k or some princess said how much fun she was having at your expense. Bring on the Thought Police.

    1. Xeno Post author

      Makes sense. We didn’t have these problems in my schools but kids today have much more brain damage from poor home situations, lack of exercise, cell phone use and bad diets. In LA the air pollution probably makes them crazy.

      I’ve worked with severely emotionally disturbed kids and teens who are too disruptive to be in public schools. With the right structure and encouragement most do well, but it take more attention than our society is willing to pay for.

  2. kevin

    Schools, streets, restaurants, airports, traffic lights, offices, police cars, your phone and your house. We’re Schrodinger’s kids, without the camera do we exist anymore?

  3. Patrick

    You’d think with cameras everywhere I wouldn’t have to explain to every date why I’m setting up the camera and lights in my bedroom.

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