Video surveillance to counter violence in schools

While it is not uncommon to see surveillance cameras in American schools, for example, they are now also being introduced in Quebec. The objective pursued: to reduce violence. Let us take advantage of this news to question the ethics of such a measure.

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

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The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board (CSMB), in the Montreal region, will be watching its students. Within three years, 895 new state-of-the-art cameras will be installed in 80 schools. That's more than 35 cameras per secondary school, and at least 6 per primary school. A measure of rare magnitude in the Quebec school environment.
Video surveillance has existed for several years in the field of education, especially at the secondary level. But for a school board to decide to massively install cameras in all its schools, that's another story.
Source: La Presse
The introduction of video surveillance in schools will allow you to educate students about the ethical issues that can arise when people are filmed in public places. Sure, there are benefits, but what about privacy?


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Make a critical judgment following the study of various use cases of video surveillance.
- Explain why video surveillance can be beneficial in certain professions or public places.
- Observe CCTV cameras, and identify the sectors that have the most and the places that do not.
- Explore different CCTV cameras in large urban centers.
- Organize a webcast to present an event to the public, relatives or friends.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Smile, you are being filmed!

Note: If you have an interactive whiteboard, you can use the appropriate file from the following to record student responses to Activities 1 and 2.
File version for SMART Notebook software.
Version for ActivInspire software.
PDF version for other software or for printing.
Activate your students' prior knowledge by asking them to identify one or more examples of cases where they find video surveillance to be beneficial. Ask them if they have any examples to the contrary, too.
Here are some examples of situations, happy or unhappy, that have been captured using video surveillance:
A school teacher abusing her students
Thieves arrested thanks to video surveillance
VIDEO. Colombia: a thief of cellphone hit by a bus in his flight
VIDEO. Australia: a thief knocked out by a glass door manages to escape

ACTIVITY 2: Video surveillance: for or against?

Suggest that your students imagine themselves working in various professions, or walking around in public places, so that they can identify the advantages and disadvantages of using video surveillance in several contexts of life. Ask them to justify their comments and validate with their teammates if they agree with the ideas put forward. Try to bring out common reasons that could justify the use of video surveillance and the reasons that are repeated for banning it from public places.
- At school (school principal)
- In the city
- Citizen
- Banker
- Trader
- Others

ACTIVITY 3: "Project under surveillance"

Watch the this video as a trigger for this activity. Collect the reactions of your students by letting them express themselves on this new societal phenomenon of the 21st century.

Source: Project under surveillance

Here are two proposals for activities related to the Project under surveillance :
a) Ask your students to analyze the positioning of surveillance cameras in one of the regions available in the left-hand menu (Angers, Dijon, Paris, etc.). They can enlarge the image to see the key areas where surveillance cameras have been installed, as well as the areas that have no cameras at all. Ask them questions in order to push their thinking further:
- Why are the cameras so arranged?
- Would they add surveillance cameras in some places?
b) Suggest that the students pay attention, for a week, to the places they frequent and the paths they take. Invite them to list the surveillance cameras installed all around them. They can note the types of businesses that have installed them, their number and check for signs indicating their location.

ACTIVITY 4: Webcams of major cities on Google Maps

Use the site Google maps in order to observe the different webcams available, in real time, in major cities around the world. Model how to access webcam broadcasts so that students, in turn, can explore them freely. Write the name of a city when you arrive on the site and, at the top, on the right of the screen, hover over it with your mouse in order to be able to check the option of webcams. Click on one of the choices of webcams offered to access the images broadcast live.
Ideally, your students would have the opportunity to explore this site, in the computer lab, in order to appropriate this little-known option of Google Maps. Ask them to write down their most surprising discoveries and to keep track of the elements observed in large metropolises. You could suggest that they choose a continent, in small teams, and one member of the team could then share the group's observations with the whole class.
Here are some examples of cities that have made a live webcam broadcast available to the public:
Paris (France)
new York
(United States)

ACTIVITY 5: Live broadcast

Show some sample educational webcast to your students from the website Ustream. Filter in advance the videos you will present to your students to identify the topics that would be most relevant to them. You will have the opportunity to observe live, among others, birds hatching their eggs, dogs and cats, rockets in space, storms, and more.
With this site, you could organize a webcast of a special event at your school or in your classroom. A Christmas concert, a graduation or a live play, to your entire community (parents, audience, etc.) to showcase the achievements and skills of your students. Sometimes space is too limited to accommodate all of your students' parents and friends at school or in your classroom, so why not webcast their accomplishments!
Registration to the site is mandatory and free to organize a webcast. Equipment required: Laptop with built-in microphone and webcam or a tabletop microphone and an external webcam. Internet connection of acceptable speed. Please note that the better the equipment used, the better the image broadcasted.
Check with your establishment if parental permissions are required to do this.

For further

Rights and freedoms in connection with video surveillance
Guidelines for video surveillance using non-concealed devices in the private sector
Traffic camera in Quebec

More about the magazine

Cameras to calm schoolchildren
Surveillance cameras proliferate in Quebec
100 cameras to be installed in Montreal to better manage traffic
World webcam

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