Senate Bill for ‘Pervasive’ Surveillance Creates Culture of Police State, Won’t Reduce School Violence
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. January 6, 2020
If the RESPONSE Act (S.2690) student surveillance introduced by Senator John Cornyn last fall passes, students will have even less privacy and schools will be forced to monitor students constantly.
Many recent state school safety proposals call for increased surveillance to try to reduce school violence. Yet there is little evidence this will be effective while disproportionately affecting students with disabilities and non-white students.
The RESPONSE Act will broaden the categories of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which schools are required to monitor to try to predict student violence against themselves or others. We wonder if lawmakers have read the report on school safety by the U.S. Justice Department in which the FBI found there is no one profile for a school shooter. Not only will social media monitoring not deter or help solve serious crimes but free speech is trampled with the surveillance of ordinary citizens discussing ordinary affairs being treated “as justifiable targets of surveillance”.
Schools often issue digital devices for students to take home or online accounts for access from home, both of which require network monitoring. With the RESPONSE Act, schools will have to monitor students constantly. Certain words by students used on social media during non-school hours can send an alert to school personnel which may alert law enforcement. This could result in a home visit by law enforcement officers and even false jail time.
The monitoring requirements of the RESPONSE Act place an expensive burden on schools, threatens student privacy, and creates a culture of surveillance in American schools.
Constant surveillance of students can be harmful to their creativity, individualism, and freedom of speech. By conditioning students to accept constant monitoring of their activity by authoritarian figures such as the government, students are being prepared to live in a socialist society.
Instead of student surveillance, schools can better address the problem by making changes to the school climate which is contributing to the high rate of anxiety, depression, and suicide that has skyrocketed among teenagers today. Hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers have doubled in the past decade, with the highest rates in admissions coming in early fall as students return to school.
If you want to stop this dangerous bill, call your Senators and Congressman.
U.S. Representative 202-225-3121
U.S. Senator 202-224-3121