Cameras in schools a good idea

Frank Brown made a great point recently when he spoke at a forum on security at Souhegan High School where some of the primary issues are whether to install cameras in the school and end Souhegan’s open campus philosophy.

Brown, an Amherst resident, pointed out that in this day and age, teenagers are used to cameras being everywhere and generally pay them little heed. They use their phones as cameras all the time and often post pictures and videos to the web, sometimes to the detriment of their futures, but that’s another story.

“The notion that (cameras in the school) would destroy trust is overdone,” Brown said, and buttressed his point by reminding the audience and school officials that when school resource officers – i.e., police officers in the school – were proposed several years ago, there was similar opposition. “Now they are part of the community,” he said.

We argued in the past that when it comes to security and keeping young people safe, the best voices are those of people who deal with such issues, people like Officer John Smith, Souhegan’s resource officer. He and at least one other security professional advised officials to follow U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommendations favoring a more restricted campus and interior cameras.

We agree.

One of the arguments against cameras has been, is, and always will be that the Souhegan school community is different. Certainly we don’t expect an active shooter at Souhegan, or Milford or Wilton-Lyndeborough, but the unexpected can and does happen and when it does, it’s too late to say we should have had more security measures.

We don’t see what school cameras can hurt. By the time they’ve been in the school for two months, kids will have forgotten all about them just as people all over the country, all over the world, forget about or ignore the surveillance cameras that are now in nearly every store, ever bank and in some nations and cities, on street corners.

And it’s not just a question of mortal danger that cameras can answer. We might not think or believe that bad things can happen in a school like Souhegan, that some kids bully other kids, but they do. And if knowing that a camera is in the area can convince one kid that it’s not a good idea to put his hands on another, generally weaker, kid, well, isn’t that good? Kids being bullied are loathe to tell anyone, often until it is too late. Maybe some cameras can spare them the pain.

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