Ryan International school – Are CCTVs the Best Solution?
5 min. read.
When faced with a problem, ideally, we should get to the source of the problem first. Only then can we attempt to solve it. But of course, we all know that!
And yet, almost always, we will first react to a problem by attempting to solve it with the first innovative seeming available. And what a sense of accomplishment it brings! Does it solve the problem? It might, or not. It sometimes might get you to believe the problem is solved, only for the problem to transform into another one.
To put it crudely, problems are like rats trying to get in. You can’t prevent them from entering a place by fixing the only opening you see. Because they’ll find another way. You need to know why they’re coming, and identify all the openings available to them, and fix that!
Consider the recent horrific murder of a student at Ryan International school.
There has been a petition doing the rounds, requesting for a law to enforce installation of CCTVs at schools, with viewing access to all parents. It does sound logical (if not somewhat creepy). But is it a great solution?
Of course CCTV cameras help. Not only by hopefully preventing such horrific crimes, but also helping a tab on the children, ensuring they’re not doing anything they shouldn’t be.
But as quickly as the solution of CCTV cameras comes to mind after any crime, one should know that their effectiveness is limited by the need of people to monitor it, and the constant, undivided attention of those people who are monitoring it. That is, if a crime is to be prevented. As per doctors, the young boy was dead within 2 minutes of the attack. CCTV cameras do have a deterrent effect. But the fact that the school in this case already had them, functioning or not, meant the criminal was not ‘deterred’.
So are CCTV cameras our holistic solution to prevent such gruesome crimes? I don’t think so.
Tight security at home, before 1 am on night
When I was in school, almost another lifetime ago, times were far safer. Employees listened, followed rules. And perhaps fewer people were as sinister as they are today. My school had a few smaller gates within the premises, giving access in different directions. However, there was a strict protocol when it came to those gates.
Parents, relatives and drivers who came to pick up students, were only allowed up to a second smaller gate inside. Both gates were guarded. All other internal access gates were either locked at all times, or kept open only at certain times (around breaks, etc.). And I don’t think the smaller access gates were ever open when the main gate was. This prevented any outsider from entering the premises.
A simple process. But effective.
It didn’t need anyone constantly monitoring (except the guards).
However safe one might feel about CCTV cameras, monitoring them is arguably among the dullest jobs in the world. Requiring constant alertness; a tough ask of the average human staring at a screen. Even worse now, with smartphones and easy access to entertainment. Automated monitoring with hostility detection, that would be safe. But I’m currently clueless on the degree of advancement in that space. Cost and mass-implementation would be a different story, at least at the moment.
But that said, we need to still work on the basics. Identify sources, causes, weaknesses. And fix them with simple but effective measures, not just with readily available solutions that seem perfect.
The advantage with having a process like the one above, of securing different boundaries, is firstly its effectiveness and simplicity. But more importantly, the entire staff is involved in the process. So you, as a staff member, know what gates should be closed at what times, and why. If a gate is left open, you’d spot it instantly, because you are as concerned about the safety of your students as any parent would be. And you are much more likely to alert those in charge, and not merely go about your routine assuming cameras and people monitoring it have it covered. Of course, it would take more than a miracle to protect children, when owners of the school themselves were so careless and indifferent about security.
Incidents like the one above are deadly serious, and merely assuming a plug-&-play solution will fix it, and more importantly, not create more/different security or safety problems, is what one should be more concerned about.