25 SES 05, Ethical Issues
This study explored how primary school children perceive school surveillance cameras (CCTV) and how their perceptions relate to their privacy consciousness. It focused on the following questions:
- What do children know about their school’s surveillance cameras?
- How do children respond to school surveillance cameras?
- What are the positive and negative aspects that children ascribe to school surveillance cameras?
- How do children understand different usages of school surveillance cameras for education purposes?
- Do children link school surveillance cameras and their right to privacy, and if so, how?
The theoretical framework of the study is structured along three axes. The first axis reviews literature on school surveillance cameras, exploring their objectives, usages, and their educational and ethical implications (e.g., Hope, 2009; Perry-Hazan & Birnhack, 2016; Taylor, 2013; Warnick, 2007).
The second axis reviews studies that explored the development of rights consciousness – the process that motivates people to define problems and obstacles in terms of rights (e.g., Engel & Munger, 2003; Merry, 2003). These studies have demonstrated that the development of rights consciousness relies on conveying knowledge pertaining to the availability of rights and on practices that reinforce the experience of these rights. Childhood experiences affect the ability to develop rights consciousness later in life, as this early period shapes individuals’ personality, their worldview, and their perception of self and others (Engel & Munger, 2003; Morrill, Edelman, Tyson, & Arum, 2010).
The third axis, which links the previous two, reviews studies that examined children’s privacy consciousness (e.g., Bach et al., 2011; Marwick & boyd, 2014), and children’s perceptions of surveillance practices and responses to such practices (e.g., Barron, 2014; Bracy, 2011; McCahill & Finn, 2010; Ruck, Harris, Fine, & Freudenberg, 2008; Taylor, 2010; Weiss, 2007). Few of these studies explored how adolescents perceive school surveillance cameras. Taylor (2010) conducted focus groups with adolescents attending three secondary schools in the UK. She found that numerous adolescents felt that the use of the cameras in their school was symptomatic of an underlying mistrust of them, and thought that the cameras were unnecessary and unjustified. Yet, Taylor found resignation among the adolescents to the fact that within the school environment they had very little power to object or question the surveillance. Bracy (2011) reached similar findings, by conducting an ethnographic research in two American secondary schools. The adolescents thought that high-security strategies, including cameras, were largely unnecessary, but they tended to normalize the use of these strategies. McCahill and Finn (2010) conducted focus groups with adolescents attending three UK secondary schools. They showed how the experiences and responses of the pupils to surveillance varied across social positioning of class and gender, and how the pupils shaped the surveillance regimes by evading, negotiating, and resisting them. The privileged position of pupils at a private school enabled them to perceive themselves as immune to much of the surveillance targeting, rather perceiving it to be directed at ‘Them’ (e.g., ‘criminals’, ‘Chavs,’ and ‘drunks’). In contrast, marginalized pupils experienced a range of surveillance practices that monitored, confronted, and punished them for anti-social activities. The study also showed that pupils at a girls’ school experienced a voyeuristic surveillance regime that permeates the wider culture of displaying women’s bodies by the mass media.
The current study focuses on the perceptions of younger participants: primary school pupils, rather than adolescents. Our study contributes to the literature by applying a law-and-society theoretical framework, which facilitates conceptualizing children’s perceptions in terms of rights.
Bach, N., Köhler, M., Dienel, H. L., Horvath, L., Schmidt, M., & Pohoryles, R. (2011). Privacy–appraising challenges to technologies and ethics. Cordis. Retrieved from http://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/155446_en.html. Barron, C. M. (2014). 'I had no credit to ring you back': Children’s strategies of negotiation and resistance to parental surveillance via mobile phones. Surveillance & Society, 12(3), 401-413. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Redwood City: Stanford University Press. Bracy, N. L. (2011). Student perceptions of high security school environments. Youth and Society, 43, 365–395 Engel, D. M., & Munger, F. W. (2003). Rights of inclusion: Law and identity in the life stories of Americans with disabilities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hope, A. (2009). CCTV, school surveillance and social control. British Educational Research Journal, 35(6), 891-907 Lundy, L., & McEvoy, L. (2011). Children’s rights and research processes: Assisting children to (in)formed views. Childhood, 19(1) 129-144. Marwick, A., & boyd, D. (2014). Networked privacy: How teenagers negotiate context in social media. New Media & Society, 16(7), 1051-1067. McCahill, M., & Finn, R. (2010). The social impact of surveillance in three UK schools: Angels, devils and teen mums. Surveillance & Society, 7(3/4), 273-289. Merry, S. E. (2003). Rights talk and the experience of law: Implementing women's human rights to protection from violence. Human Rights Quarterly, 25(2), 343-381. Morrill, C., Tyson, K., Edelman, L. B., & Arum, R. (2010). Legal mobilization in schools: The paradox of rights and race among youth. Law & Society Review, 44(3‐4), 651-694. Perry-Hazan, L., & Birnhack, M. (2016). The hidden human rights curriculum of surveillance cameras in schools: Due process, privacy and trust. Cambridge Journal of Education, doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2016.1224813. Ruck, M., Harris, A., Fine, M., & Freudenberg, N. (2008). Youth experiences of surveillance. In M. Flynn & D. C. Brotherton (Eds.), Globalizing the streets: Cross-cultural perspectives on youth, social control, and empowerment (pp. 15-30). New York: Columbia University Press. Taylor, E. (2010). I spy with my little eye: The use of CCTV in schools and the impact on privacy. The Sociological Review, 58(3), 381-405. Taylor, E. (2013). Surveillance schools: Security, discipline and control in contemporary education. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan. Warnick, B. (2007). Surveillance cameras in schools: An ethical analysis. Harvard Educational Review, 77(3), 317-343. Weiss, J. (2007). “Eyes on me regardless”: Youth responses to high school surveillance. Educational Foundations, 21, 47-69.
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