Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards?

In response to an old New York Times article: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/should-schools-put-tracking-devices-in-students-i-d-cards/ 

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Although this article isn’t about UK schools, it’s still worth pondering on.

Isn’t it true that absenteeism from school, playing truant, involvement in antisocial and delinquent behaviour  are all well known reoccurring problems with school aged teens.

Youth workers, social workers, education welfare officers, youth offending officers, teachers, the police and all manner of professionals working with young people could gladly confirm this.

But then how are school students any different from delinquent adults or skivers from work? We all knowingly make our own choices, then face the consequences, isn’t that is our ‘human right’, the liberty of free will.

Should students need to be located to confirm they are indeed safe and well as a result of an incident, (e.g. a building evacuation) then in principle, this measure can only prove helpful.

ID cards (to my knowledge) are not routinely used as a tracking device (perhaps in very high security work places), it’s quite common for people to leave ID badges on their desks whilst having a natter in the kitchen, going to the loo or nipping out for a cigarette (if the reception staff are familiar and relaxed about buzzing people in) – it all depends on the ethos in your workplace; furthermore, not all work places require that you wear an ID badge or operate a swipe system for every member of staff it’s all a bit ad hoc.

Not all schools require students to wear ID (in fact hardly any that I can recall),  they still adhere to the traditional ‘call out each name’ registration system, but in further education colleges, ID cards become standard procedure.

Parents might welcome a tracking chip, given the climate of fear within the media at present (missing persons, street violence). If schools share tracking information with parents and authorities, it could help in confirming whether a student has returned home safely each evening, and their possible whereabouts at the time of any questionable incidents. Surely this would be a good thing…

On the flip side, lost ID cards, forgotten ID cards, ID cards falling into the wrong hands, students swapping or stealing another students’ ID card (for wrong use) would cast doubt on the value of any data gathered from them, since they do not categorically prove individual whereabouts, that said, they would probably play a helpful part in some cases.

Lost or stolen cards could be cancelled and reissued as with any other card type (travel, credit, bank, retail points, discount cards etc).

Most students have smart phones, which have pretty much the same technological capability to track the owner – not much different from having a chipped ID card really, apart from the fact that schools have a duty of care to safeguard their students as much as possible and this would help enhance that effort.

I guess the question I’m left with, is ‘how much damage could this ID card do, on balance?’ Not much really, just the increased feeling of being watched, but with good reason, by the right people. I’ve picked up a few dropped ID cards in the past and posted sent them back to the colleges in question, in most cases students have to purchase a replacement in order to re-enter the building so the old card is void by the time they get it back.

Despite my overall feeling, I definitely keep an open mind on things of this nature. Technology can become dangerous if it goes wrong, or is abused in some way. The bottom line is being able to feel you can trust those individuals who have access to students’ tracking data, to use it in the best interests of young people.

 

 

 

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