School surveillance doesn't deter crime

Surveillance cameras, security guards and zero tolerance policies don’t deter crime in schools, concludes Torin Monahan, a Vanderbilt professor. If anything, security measures “make students feel less safe, by sending them the message that adults distrust and fear them,” reports The Tennessean.

“Columbine had armed security guards. Columbine had video cameras,” said Monahan, referring to the notorious 1999 high school shootings in Colorado that took 15 lives and sparked a nationwide campaign for heightened school security.

“Generally speaking,” he said, “surveillance is not good for preventing crime. It’s more useful for catching people after the fact.”

In Schools Under Surveillance: Cultures of Control in Public Education, researchers looked at similar schools: Those with “cameras, armed guards, frequent pat-downs and weapons checks, even some with barbed-wire perimeters” had the same crime rates as schools without those measures.

The charter high school in my book, Our School, is a small school that doesn’t let students get away with anything. Teachers enforce the rules backed by the principal. No money is spent on security. It’s not necessary.

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