Should Classes Have Video Cameras To Protect Kids With Special Needs?

Last February, when the news came out that a teacher who worked with kids who had autism dribbled hot sauce on a crayon to prevent a child from nibbling on them, I questioned whether it would be a good idea to have video cameras in special ed classrooms.

In recent years, I keep hearing stories about teacher abuse. Parents have been forced to wire up their kids with microphones for proof. One that made national headlines was the dad, Stuart Chaifetz, who put a digital record in his son’s pocket, which captured an aide and teacher saying things such as “Shut your mouth” and “Oh, Akian, you are a bastard.” Another dad who did the same caught the aide and teacher bullying his 14-year-old daughter with taunts like “Are you that damn dumb?” and “No wonder you don’t have friends.”

Now getting video cams into classrooms with kids who can’t speak or communicate well has become a mission for some parents around the country. They’re spreading the word via petitions, videos and letters to President Obama, including this change.org petition by a mom of a child with special needs who she says was a victim of physical and psychological abuse by a classroom aide.

Some groups have expressed concerns about privacy issues, notes this ABC News article, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Of course, closed-circut cameras in schools aren’t the definitive answer to the problem of abuse of kids with special needs. But it could help; given the number of cases cropping up, and you have to expect many more go undetected, safety measures are critical. While teachers have been caught with abuse it seems that there may be bigger issues with aides in classrooms, whose training and experience may not be up to par.

Even after teachers are caught they may not be fired; the teacher in the Akian Chaifetz case had tenure and was moved to another school.

Me, I’m all for this. What are your thoughts: Should video cameras be installed in classrooms where there are kids with special needs?

Image of teacher in classroom via Shutterstock

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  1. by Tooner

    On September 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I know we have pretty strict privacy laws here in Canada. Do you guys? For privacy reasons, no but for detecting abuse, yes.

  2. by kadiera

    On September 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I think it’s an interesting idea (we have cameras at home because we have private duty nursing for one of my children).

    But….knowing how difficult some IEP meetings already are, I wonder what would be required to get ahold of that video to prove your case? I can see it becoming an expensive drain on parents *and* schools trying to manage the flow of information.

  3. by Laverne Bissky

    On September 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I think it would be very sad if it came to this. But I would support improved training for both teachers and aides on what abuse is and what to do when they suspect a colleague of abuse.

  4. by MichaelKors Outlet

    On September 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I would gladly pay extra for having cameras at my boys school. I think it should be an option at any school with all the things going on you can never be too safe.

  5. by Julia

    On October 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I support the idea. These are kids that have difficulties with communication, the average child who has an abusive teacher can tell their parents or another adult – these kids don’t have a voice.

    Not only that, but the abusive teachers know that these kids aren’t able to tell on them, so, like in Akian’s case, they can chat about their sex problems and other inappropriate subjects without fear of discovery.

    If there are children in a class who cannot speak for themselves, then there should be surveillance.