How to Implement Ethical CCTV Practices in Educational Institutions

Meta: CCTV provides a great safety and security cover to students in educational institutions – schools and colleges. But while implementing a policy around it, it’s important to consider the ethics part.

The use of CCTV cameras is increasing in many schools across the United States.  School shootings and youth violence have caused concerns for student safety. For many the use of CCTV cameras in schools is a good way to improve student safety. However, there are also detractors who raise ethical questions. Educational institutions have to be very clear about their policies. They must make sure the use of CCTV does not violate the personal privacy of students.

Source: FreePik

What is CCTV? 

CCTV, otherwise known as Closed Circuit Television, is basically visual surveillance technology. CCTV systems often monitor public areas for violent actions, robbery, vandalism, and unlawful entry. The technology has advanced way beyond a camera with a cable running to a television monitor. Schools can either use on-premise systems or cloud video surveillance systems which are more scalable. A report uncovered some interesting statistics about surveillance cameras in 2022. 

  • 93% of U.S. campuses had surveillance cameras installed.
  • 54% of colleges and universities frequently relied on surveillance cameras for evidence.
  • 90% of U.S. campus surveillance cameras were to cover entrances and exits.
  • 42% of higher education institutions used surveillance cameras to monitor theft-prone areas.  

Apart from worries about their safety, students often experience other types of stress. Some are exhausted from working part-time jobs and studying. Others have difficulties with language and writing skills. This may cause them to miss deadlines. At an online writing site, they can ask an expert writer to “write my essay” as per the requirement. The writer will carefully follow instructions and produce an original essay on time. Students can request unlimited revisions until they are happy with the end result.  

The legitimacy of using CCTV

Closed Circuit TV cameras are legal but only in certain circumstances. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) make processing of personal data legal only under the following conditions.

  • Data subjects (in this case the students) must give permission for the processing of personal data for one or more specific objectives. 
  • Processing must be essential for fulfilling a contract with data subjects. It must be necessary for taking steps at the demand of data subjects before entering into a contract.
  • Processing must be essential for the controller to comply with lawful obligations.
  • Processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of data subjects or other parties.
  • Processing is vital for the completion of a task carried out in the public interest.
  • Processing is necessary for the aims of the legal interests of a controller or third party.

Source: Freepik

Pros of using CCTV cameras in schools

Educational institutions have to keep students safe. They must have appropriate systems in place to do so. This can be a tall order and CCTV can be one solution. There are many good reasons for using CCTV cameras in educational institutions. They can help to detect violence and bullying. They can also monitor entrances and exits for more control. 

They can detect unfolding emergencies and incidents. This may be anything from detecting escalating tensions in a group of students to spotting a potential fire hazard, Surveillance cameras provide a view of what’s happening without having to be there physically. Schools can be more proactive about campus safety. They can know about any threats in real-time. It is easy to share live footage with emergency responders.

Knowing that there are CCTV cameras can help to deter bad behavior. School districts in the U.S. used surveillance cameras as far back as the 1990s. They found that surveillance cameras could deter most of the violence and defacement that overwhelmed district schools in the past.

They can reduce crime. In 2022, 21% of U.S. campuses claimed that their surveillance cameras prevent crime. Findings from a recent report reveal that the use of CCTV is associated with a decrease in crime.

Provide evidence: In 2022 over 6 out of 10 U.S. schools got evidence for investigations from surveillance cameras. Camera footage can capture incidents of violence, bullying, or theft. Providing evidence of bad behavior helps to penalize those accountable. It provides an impartial viewpoint to help settle issues quickly and easily. 

Any footage a school uses for criminal procedures needs redacting. This is so faces and identifying information of students or others caught on video are protected. 

Cons of installing CCTV cameras

Installing video surveillance cameras in educational institutions can increase mistrust, and fear, and have a negative effect on the climate in a school. 

What educational institutions should consider when implementing CCTV?

The balance between the safety comprehensive surveillance systems can supply and creating a welcoming atmosphere can be challenging to achieve. With the range of products and services on the market, educational institutions can work on integrating CCTV in a non-intrusive yet quietly effective way. 

Transparency and visibility

Educational institutions must process personal data in a transparent and legitimate way. It must be collected for clear objectives. Video surveillance in more private areas is considered an invasion of privacy. In educational institutions, surveillance cameras should be used openly. Teachers, administrators, and students should be aware of cameras in lunchrooms, corridors, or gyms. When cameras are visible, people will think twice about their behavior as the possibility of facing negative repercussions increases dramatically.  


Where younger students are concerned, there is a fine line in terms of the extent of monitoring that should take place. Educational institutions must obtain permission from students and parents.

Sensitive personal information includes political, religious, or philosophical beliefs. It includes racial or ethnic background, biometric and genetic records, and data regarding health or a person’s sex life or sexual orientation. Data subjects should give clear agreement to the collection of personal data of this type. 


Parents and others have lodged complaints about the use of CCTV cameras in educational institutions. They believe that even the reasonable collection of data could present privacy and liberty concerns. It is important for educational institutions to reassure them about their concerns. Overall, CCTV systems seem to be getting more support from parents, administrators, and even students. They appear to make students feel safer and give parents more peace of mind.