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Should Your Child’s School Be Allowed to Spy on Students Via Webcam?

February 25, 2010 by

Is Big Brother watching your child?

Blake Robbins, a 15-year-old student at Harriton High School in suburban Philadelphia, is saying that his school administrators have been spying on him outside of school, via a school-owned laptop —and now he and his family have filed a federal lawsuit.

Apparently, Blake was approached by a school official who said they'd seen him with pills via the webcam installed on his school computer. The school used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence, and accused him of selling drugs.(As it turned out, the "drugs" in question were Mike & Ike candies.) Blake and his family are maintaining that his privacy has been violated, and the FBI is now conducting a criminal investigation. In fact, some say this case might go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Personally, I don't much like the idea of Big Brother watching me — even if the big brother in question is my child's high school. It's one thing to let students and parents know that surveillance is taking place via webcam (although I still wouldn't go along with that, I have to admit) but to not tell the students is another matter altogether. So far, the school isn't talking, but you have to wonder—whose idea was it to spy on the students at this particular high school? They did say the laptop policy of two-way webcams came about in order to trace stolen computers, but in that case…who was watching 15-year-old Blake Robbins as he ate his Mike & Ike's And how many other students have been spied on during the course of the school year

Another parent from the school district said that her daughter used to have her latptop on and in her room at all times—even when she dressed for school. These days, her teenager puts a bandage over the webcam, as do most other students.

I have to admit that I'm uneasy about the idea of anyone spying on my child at all—even me. If he ever gives me reason to do so when he hits the adolescent years, I'm going to tell him straight up, "You broke my trust. Now I'm going to be checking up on you." The unfair thing to me in this case is that nobody was ever given that choice—not even the parents.

Where do you stand on this issue Should schools be allowed to watch the students, or is this a violation of privacy

Elisabeth Wilkins is the mother of an 11-year-old son and the Editor of Empowering Parents. She and her family live in Maine.

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