Surveillance cameras to be installed…

Chicago Public School’s pervasive violences gets national recognition following the fatal beating of 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert.

Philadelphia Public School’s pervasive violence  gets national recognition following the waylaying of at least 26 immigrant Asian students, sending seven students to the hospital.

  • In response, the district installed dozens more security cameras

West Coast Contra School District’s pervasive violence gets a double dose of national attention following this fall’s homecoming dance gang rape and more recently the rape of a 12-year-old student during the school day.

  • At Richmond High: “The lighting was increased over the weekend,” Superintendent Bruce Harter said. “Tomorrow we will be receiving bids for security cameras … the fencing project is under way.”
  • And at El Cerrito middle schoolwe are moving aggressively to add fencing, lighting and security cameras where needed.

There is plenty of documentation that each of these communities was begging for more security measures long before any of  these incidents occurred.  

For me this calls to mind one of those dangerous interstate ramps that everyone knows about where accidents occur regularly.  When finally a school bus goes off the ramp – and children die – something may be done.  Meanwhile, everyone in the area was always aware of the danger, and those who could  avoided the situation altogether.  Those with the resources always took other routes, leaving that dangerous mess to be face only by the unaware and by those with no alternative routes.

The violence of structural poverty, racism, and misogyny was and is always right there in front of us all. Though with any luck we get to drive down another road to avoid looking at it.   

And if things get too shameful, we can always offer the anonymous eye of the camera to watch over the children forced to grow up in these conditions. 

Every day with every story I read, I simply ask myself what would I expect and demand for my child.  More security measures is a minimum.   But beyond this it seems there must be a demand for much much more.

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2 Comments

Filed under Anti-immigrant, Gangs, Group Violence, Hazing, Poverty, Race / Ethnicity, School Violence, Sexual Assault

2 responses to “Surveillance cameras to be installed…

  1. Joni Sarah D.

    You write that there should be more to help make living safe in our society. What do you have in mind? Schools and life in general has it’s hazards. Every child that doesn’t muster to someone’s ideas of the perfect boy or girl becomes prime targets to daily beatings by the “Bullies” of the schools. People get mugged every day in and out of their homes. We walk the streets of our cities with little knowledge that we can and do get beaten and robbed. As a transsexual woman I leave the safety of my home knowing I could be forced to protect myself with lethal force. Yes I said lethal force. I am a prime target for becoming one of the thousands of men and women like myself that are beaten and killed every day. I know every time I leave my home and even in my home I could die before the next sunrise. I am one of those that are fully trained in survival. Lethal force comes in my ability to use my hands and anything I can get my hands on to survive an attack from one that is intent on killing me. but this still does not cover your trailing thoughts that more should be done to stop the epidemic force that causes harm to our children and ourselves. So what is the “more” you elude to? Is it education to the bigots of the world? Is it heavier punishments to the Bullies and criminals of our world? we need people that witness a crime to come forward so such criminals are punished to the fullest the law provides. Children are beaten sometime to death for one reason or another in our schools and those that witness such beatings do not come forward to help stop such beatings. cameras do help in high crime areas but after a crime has happened. we need to stop the crimes before they happen but criminals have been and will continue to be a part of our society. tel us what we can do more.

  2. Julia

    Thank you for your honest and thoughtful response to the question that has driven my career for the last 30 years. Here is the best I can do for an answer…

    I am hopeful that a teacher education curriculum that addresses sociocultural issues and demands social awareness of new teachers can do something to improve the odds for vulnerable populations. Teachers who are culturally unaware of the lived experience of minority populations regularly reinforce the power and violence of dominant culture through their silence.

    I am hopeful that teaching methods in the high school, middle school and elementary that openly engage students in an awareness of difference, diversity, and inequality may give them the language and concepts necessary to engage with one another differently. A critical education can both inform and empower minority students and it can educate those who harm unintentionally to rather become allies.

    I am hopeful that discipline that speaks directly to the actions, that moves beyond who hit who when, and actually considers the relative social power of each person in a given situation may push all the ugly biases to the forefront of the discussion. I work toward discipline that unashamedly and articulately names racism, homophobia, or whatever prevailing difference created an ‘easy target.’

    But each of these possibilities must be enacted by a community of educators, a community of families, a community looking at social violence differently.

    Simply privatizing social violence allows us to turning each incident into a single lone criminal case. And then we no longer consider the social factors that contributed to any targeted act. The social norms of this society create certain populations as targets.

    A focus on discipline and surveillance allows everyone else to go on pretending that our daily lives have nothing to do with the fact that transgendered people are murdered, women and children are raped, sexual minority people are targeted, black people are the victims of hate crimes, etc. at a drastically disproportionate rate to society overall.

    In the circle of educators I work with these are known facts, and we consider ourselves complicit with the violence if we are not actively engaged, through education, in addressing this violence. However, in the general education community, where these facts are recognized, they are generally considered inevitable and the overall focus is on surveillance and post tragedy punishment. I don’t dismiss either of these activities, but I do believe crime statistics would prove that neither does anything to reduce the violence.

    Too much of an answer – really another blog – but this is a very troubling question for me and one I wish I could simply answer and be done with.