Sydney, Australia: CCTV in Schools Reduced Bullying
In Sydney, Australia, several public schools are making the decision to monitor their students using new CCTV security surveillance equipment. They have been installed in many schools a way to stop violent activity and misbehavior in students, and they have so far proven to be very successful. But these cameras are having another affect on the schools and students: a very significant reduction in bullying cases has been reported since the cameras were first installed.
CCTV security cameras were placed in Sydney’s most high-risk schools, and there has since been a dramatic cut in the number of criminal acts, break-ins and vandalism, and other such crimes usually committed by students on campus. And now, the cameras have also led to a reduction in student bullying.
Doonside Technology High School in Sydney’s west has reported nearly a 70 percent crop in overall bulling since the installation of 57 CCTV security surveillance cameras to monitor that area around the clock. In other schools, CCTV footage has been used to record and provide evidence for specific incidents. For example, there was an incident where an agitated student was caught carrying a knife when he tried to enter the deputy principal’s office, possibly to attack him. There was also an incident in which several students were trying to provoke two young girls to fight each other.
The installation of these cameras was part of the new Secure Schools Program, which sought to create a safer learning environment for students and school staff. The project saw the distribution of over 20 million dollars to over 25 government and non-government NSW schools. Each of these schools received up to $1.4 million each for CCTV, fencing, lighting and improved window protection.
The funding was not specifically targeted at “student bullying, harassment, student violence and child protection or opportunistic acts of vandalism or property crime in schools”. But data obtained under information access laws shows video footage has been reviewed by school bosses during the investigation of serious incidents between students.
In the case of a fight between two teenage boys at a western Sydney high school, the incident report referred to CCTV footage which “confirmed … (one of the boys) was in possession of a knife when he attempted to gain entry to the (deputy principal’s) office”.
At a high school in the state’s west, a female student tried to gather a group to support her in a fight against another girl. While no fight eventuated, CCTV showed a large group of students gathered during lunch and was used as evidence to suspend “all students involved in encouraging students to fight”.
Strict rules surround the use of cameras in schools and they are banned in change rooms, locker rooms, toilets, showers and other bathing areas.
Parents are kept informed about the camera positioning at their children’s school, with most told the equipment is deployed for security reasons.
On the Doonside Technology High School website parents are told “cutting-edge security fencing and cameras” will keep children safe, while nearby Crawford Public School says its cameras – fixed to the top of classrooms to record outside areas – are also designed for safety.
Richmond River High School on the state’s north coast installed cameras last year to reduce theft.
The Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations said it supported security cameras as long as students understood they were being filmed.
Almost 460 serious incidents including 130 violent acts against school staff were logged during term one and term two last year.