Video Surveillance in Educational institutions
The first thought that crosses our minds when we talk of ‘video surveillance’ is that of ‘illegal activity’. Why, then, do schools and universities resort to video surveillance to monitor students? The answer becomes obvious when we realize that ‘children’ are different from ‘students’. Students perceive their schools and universities as places away from the situations in their homes, where their actions are watched by their parents, and sometimes, even relatives. From a young age, many students view school as a place to vent their hidden frustrations and ideas. Such venting often leads to many problems for the schools in question – ranging from damage to physical property to major dents in their reputations.
While effective administration can keep students disciplined and teachers happy, video surveillance is often the easier alternative. Good school administrators are hard to find, while video surveillance only need to be paid for. However, sometimes, the problems are not as trivial as simple student indiscipline, and are serious issues that can only be tackled using advanced technology.
Let us look at some of the issues in educational institutions that video surveillance can deal with. Firstly, we have juvenile violence. Schoolchildren, and even 20-year old college students, routinely get physical with their arguments. Many punches, kicks and bloody noses later, when it is time to resolve the issue, it can be quite hard to determine who started the fight, and what the reason for the argument was – both being important pieces of information that help to prevent such incidents in the future. The reason is that human eyewitnesses are often biased, and cannot be trusted. In such cases, an impartial electronic eyewitness can be a godsend. Except, of course, that god can’t send a camera; the school or college should have installed a video surveillance system before such an incident occurred.
Video surveillance isn’t just a witness, though. It can often help to observe undesirable behavior, which may not amount to any immediate, actual harm. Children attaining puberty during their school life brings its own share of problems for the average school administrator. These include things as harmless as romantic advances, and eve teasing, to such anti-social behavior as juvenile sexual crimes, if tendencies are left unchecked. This is where video surveillance steps in. An effective monitoring system will observe the social interactions of students in places such as cafeterias, quadrangles, hallways and classrooms, and detect unusual behavior.
Other uses of video surveillance in academic campuses include monitoring of the effectiveness of teachers, keeping track of the entry and exit times, as well as efficiency of other employees and general school security. The video surveillance systems in place in many American universities also help to detect and prevent such disasters as the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootouts. In short, a bunch of cameras in and around the hallways and classrooms of any campus can help in improving the habits of both students and staff, while making school administration a much better job than it usually is.