April 13, 2021

Nick Morrison: Cameras Are Being Used To Punish Students, Not Stop School Shooters

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Nick Morrison is a freelance journalist whose gigs include writing as an education correspondent at Forbes.com. In his newest piece, he looks at some disturbing research about school surveillance. The murders at Columbine spurred a widespread use of surveillance cameras in schools, with later school shootings only adding to the trend. Now it turns out there are some bad side effects to that trend.

“Instead of being used to thwart the uncommon school shooting,” according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Washington University in St Louis, “these surveillance measures may increase the capacity for schools to identify and punish students for more common and less serious offenses.”

The result is that high-surveillance schools also became high-suspension schools, said the researchers, who presented as a working paper on their findings at this week’s annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

Students at high-surveillance schools are more likely to be on the receiving end of an in-school suspension – where a student is put in isolation within the school, separated from their classmates.

This link holds even when researchers controlled for levels of school disorder and student misbehavior.

“High-surveillance schools create the capacity for high-suspension schools to exist,” said Odis Johnson, professor at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study.

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