Aug 7, 2019 - Technology

Schools balance safety vs. rights

Students at William Hackett Middle School pass through metal detectors in Albany, N.Y. Photo: Mike Groll/AP

As America confronts a mass shooting crisis, schools are increasingly having to balance proactivity on potential school shooters vs. privacy laws and civil liberties meant to protect individuals.

Why it matters: Connor Betts, who killed 9 people this weekend in Dayton, Ohio, was suspended during high school for writing a "hit list" and rape list, the AP reports.

The big picture: As of the 2017-2018 school year, 44% of public schools had threat assessment teams and 49% had systems for anonymous reporting of threats, the AP notes, citing Education Department data.

  • “They put the pieces together and look at all these moving parts together, put the puzzle together,” Mac Hardy, operations director for the National Association of School Resource Officers, told AP.
  • “The parents are interviewed by a school counselor. Are there weapons inside the home? Where are they kept?” Hardy said. “There’s a whole list of questions that they discuss. The teachers have a list of questions that they respond to in writing. You get a lot of information when you do this correctly.”

Between the lines: As Axios has previously noted, U.S. children are increasingly at the center of surveillance via facial recognition.

  • Scaling out such efforts is likely to run into the same issues that already plague our criminal justice system — particularly biases against young men of color.
  • And there's little evidence yet that this technology keeps kids safer, according to Axios' Kaveh Waddell.

The bottom line: No school program is going to end this crisis. But at this point, so long as the right advocates are allowed in the room, anything just might help.

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