Privacy. It’s a liberty we often take for granted and a word that seems to be losing much of its meaning.
Privacy is now being torn away from children who are too young to even grasp the full meaning and potential of the word.
In California, an elementary school is tracking its students with radio identification tags. The students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, are required to wear ID tags that have computer chips in them. They are used for tracking the students’ whereabouts at any given moment during school hours.
The kids can be tracked down through a computer system that can identify a student’s name, grade, school, photo, class year and four-digit school identification number.
These radio transmitters were issued and made mandatory for students at the California school – the first in the country to come out with radio ID tags – without prior parental consent or knowledge.
When parents did find out about the ID tags, they were outraged. Many parents rightfully told their kids to go against school rules and refuse to wear them.
The ID cards the school is requiring children to wear are the same devices used for tracking livestock and inventory in stores or to keep surveillance on people held under house arrest. Now they are being used to track down seven-year-olds getting their milk from a lunch line.
There is no reason to use such extreme measures on children. Kids misbehave, but they do not need computer chips around their necks to track them down while in school.
“The United States is at risk of turning into a full-fledged surveillance society,” said Nicole Ozer, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, at a school board meeting regarding the ID tags. “The tremendous explosion in surveillance-enabling technologies, combined with the ongoing weakening in legal restraints that protect our privacy mean that we are drifting toward a surveillance society.”
The Constitution does not clearly state the right to privacy, but the U.S. Supreme Court has stated such within the Bill of Rights.
Although it is not distinctly written, Americans do have a right to privacy. Therefore, innocent children should not be kept under a tracking system while they attend school.
Not only that, but this particular issue is also a matter of human respect.
They are children. No one deserves to be treated as just another number while sitting in class – these children should not be followed by a computer system while playing at recess.
“Are we trying to bring them up with respect and trust, or tell them that you can’t trust anyone, you are always going to be monitored and someone is always going to be watching you?” said one parent, Michael Cantrall, in an article posted on CNN.com.
ACLU workers have warned that if parents in the community do not stand up against this attempt at overbearing security, ID tags will become a trend in schools across the nation.
If in fact these tags do become a trend, who knows what could happen? Children may be wearing identification from the minute they attend their first day of pre-school.
The parents of these children need to speak out before this practice becomes commonplace and kids are tagged before they can sing the alphabet.
Beth Keeley can be reached at email@example.com.