School security CCTV puts bullies on pause

HI-TECH surveillance cameras installed in schools to stop crime and even terrorism have had an unexpected benefit - slashing bullying and playground violence.

Cameras in the most high-risk schools dramatically cut the number of criminal acts, break-ins and vandalism, their intended targets, but also curbed student bullying.

One school reported a 70 per cent drop in bullying since it has been protected by 57 CCTV cameras monitored around the clock.

In other schools, CCTV footage has been used to prove an agitated student was carrying a knife when he tried to enter the deputy principal's office and to record students encouraging two females to stage an organised fight.

Data btained 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  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 different secondary school, 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.

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