School Security Cameras and Video Surveillance in Schools

School districts are expected to offer a safe and secure learning environment for students, parents, teachers, and staff. This requires keeping weapons, violence, and unpleasant behavior out of school buildings.  With bullying on the rise and gun violence becoming more common, you can’t assume your school’s current security system is up to the task. 

When it comes to safety and security, schools need all the help they can get. Security cameras and video surveillance play an important role in the security posture of a school. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits and challenges of security cameras and video surveillance in schools.

Why do schools need security cameras?

Classroom security camera.

In short, school security cameras not only help you keep your campus safe, but they also deter misbehaving. In fact, an integrated security surveillance system helps schools deter crime, bullying, and school violence.

School security cameras are an important tool for ensuring safety on school premises and having a successful school year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 80 percent of public schools in the U.S. utilize security cameras.

School security cameras increase emergency response and send a strong statement that the school places a high importance on safety. Additionally, some of the benefits of school security cameras include: 

  • Helps deter crime and school violence in general.
  • Gives educators a tool to monitor and address ongoing bullying issues.
  • Discourages vandalism and trespassing.
  • Makes monitoring the hallways, entrances, and school grounds more efficient. 
  • Greatly helps in the event of an incident in terms of documentation and evidence.

School surveillance report finds that security cameras are effective

A comprehensive report on school safety technology concluded that surveillance systems allow school personnel and responders to monitor and better understand emergency situations as they arise. The report highlighted that public and private schools utilize thousands of security cameras making them the second most used security measure in public schools.

Best practices for school security camera feeds

The report emphasized that the effectiveness of security cameras in schools was heavily dependent on the way they are deployed. Some of the best practices for school security camera feeds recommend that:

  • Camera feeds transmit to a monitor with an individual assigned to watch the video feed. When a behavior is observed, security staff can immediately be sent to the location of the incident.
  • Maintain video footage. Stored video footage may aid in identifying perpetrators and verifying testimony.
  • Ultize the video analytics capabilities of your system to provide automatic detection and alerting features. A video feed can be highlighted for further observation by security staff so they can select an appropriate response.

The Different Types of School security camera systems

Schools are increasingly using security cameras as a tool to monitor and improve student safety. Schools do not have a standard setup for their security cameras and video surveillance. Instead, they follow best practices and work with knowledgeable security integrators that are able to guide them through the process. 

In a school setting, there are many different types of security cameras to choose from. Schools typically use 3 types of security cameras to cover both the interior public spaces and high traffic external zones.

Some of the most standard and effective security cameras for schools include:

Bullet security cameras

School hallway security camera.

Bullet cameras are one of the most popular school surveillance options. They can be mounted on walls or ceilings and directed in a certain direction. Even in dimly light places, most bullet cameras generate high-definition, crisp photos. This makes them suitable for usage in outdoor settings including parking lots. However, they are limited because they typically only record footage in one direction.

Dome security cameras

School hallway lockers security camera.

Dome security cameras are round and are known for the dark covering around the lens. These cameras can rotate and will allow you to film at a wide-angle to allow for the maximum amount of security footage. They’re also more discreet than bullet cameras, and they normally blend in with the environment. This keeps the cameras in the background which makes them feel less intrusive.

PTZ security cameras

PTZ security camera pan tilt zoom camera.

PTZ cameras are known for their dynamic ability to pan, tilt and zoom. They are highly adaptable security cameras that can capture the most detailed surveillance footage. They are similar to dome cameras in appearance. They can also be moved directionally and zoomed remotely or automatically, in addition to filming from a wide-angle. They may also be configured to track movement, which is useful in criminal investigations. This makes them ideal for usage in school settings.

Video security camera systems for schools have evolved to provide increased coverage and accessibility for not only individual schools, but also the school district. That’s why it is important that schools know their school security systems requirements.

School Security System Guidelines Required By States

Keeping up with all of the laws, guidelines, and procedures pertaining to school safety is difficult. Thankfully the Education Commission of the States (ECS) summarizes the laws and regulations on K-12 school safety for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Here are three key points to keep in mind: 

  • Districts must have a school safety plan, many mandating the involvement of local law enforcement.
  • Safety audits at school facilities, some with the help of local law enforcement.
  • conduct safety or security drills, such as active shooter, evacuation, lockdown and emergency response training.

There is widespread agreement that the benefits of installing security cameras in public areas across campus outweigh any privacy concerns. When it comes to security cameras in classrooms, there are many issues that a school should consider.

School security cameras in classrooms

There are numerous advantages and challenges to installing security cameras in a classroom.

Supporters of security cameras in classrooms cite safety and behavior management issues as the top reasons to have security cameras in the classrooms. Opponents claim that security cameras may create a feeling of alienation for some students and can incite a negative view of the school environment.

While opinions may vary, as with any security system, it is important that you understand the benefits and challenges before implementing or upgrading your security systems.

Benefits of installing security cameras in classrooms

Having security cameras in classrooms extends the benefits of video surveillance to the places where students spend the most time. Three key benefits of installing security cameras in classrooms are:

1. Safety in the classroom

Safety is a top priority in every school. Security cameras in classrooms enable staff and teachers to monitor unsafe activities in a classroom and aid in the event that a student or member of staff presents a present danger to others around them.

Security cameras strengthen a school’s safety program. With properly installed cameras, schools can be more proactive about safety and address safety concerns in a timely manner.

2. Supports a professional environment

The presence of a security camera can also serve as a reminder for students and teachers about the importance of professional behavior. While security cameras are mostly used to deter and detect undesired behavior, classroom cameras can also be used to hold teachers and students accountable for their conduct.

Harassment can have serious consequences for a child’s health and academic development, while false accusations can threaten a teacher’s career and reputation. Security camreas used in schools or public areas provide objective reality when allegations of harassment arise. If an incident occurs, video footage can offer leadership with accurate information on which to act.

3. Improved emergency readiness

When it comes to protecting a school, video surveillance is the first line of defense. A school may be more proactive with campus safety and know when suspicious behaviors are occurring in real time with contemporary security cameras. Schools benefit from video surveillance because it enhances emergency response and shows that the school places a high importance on safety. As a result, most parents are in favor of security cameras as long as they are installed properly.

Around 80% of public schools now utilize surveillance cameras in the hopes of reducing misconduct and violence on campus. Still, the benefits of security cameras in classrooms are still being studied and evaluated. As such school administrators should be aware of the challenges of having security cameras in the classrooms. 

Challenges of security cameras in classrooms

According to a comprehensive study on exclusion, security cameras can make some kids feel alienated and lead to a bad perception of the school environment. There may also be some parents who are uncomfortable with their children being taped by the school without their permission.

Impact on academic environment

The use of security cameras in schools is considered an infringement of privacy by those opposed to video surveillance in schools. Although video monitoring in schools is legal and rather widespread, students, staff, and parents may be concerned if security cameras are installed improperly (i.e., concealed cameras or cameras that are not plainly visible).

In situations where privacy is necessary, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and employee lounges in some states, cameras should never be used. Alternatives such as motion sensors or vaping sensors, which provide information while maintaining anonymity, can still be used to protect these places in schools.

Security cameras financial impact

The financial costs may also present a challenge for schools. As an example in 2019, the Lake County School Board in Florida purchased 1,526 new security cameras for their middle and high schools. The cameras and installation were set to cost no more than $600,000. A major selling point for the district is that new cameras will provide good image quality in a live feed, which can be helpful to law enforcement in an emergency.

The total cost of your system depends entirely on the number and quality of cameras required to fulfill your needs.

Security cameras for schools and universities 

Security camera college campus.

Even the most vigilant campus is not immune to attempts of criminal activity that threaten school security. Gone are the days when you could trust your school was safe just because it was performing well academically. School cameras encourage students to be on their best behavior and deter bullies from acting out.

After putting video cameras in corridors, several schools reported a 70% reduction in bullying activities. The use of cameras ensures that the school grounds are continuously and properly monitored.

CCTV cameras in colleges

CCTV cameras in colleges have become a staple of the campus safety setup. Overall, most campus security protection professionals appear to be very supportive of the deployment of security cameras and use this technology frequently to do their jobs and make their campuses more safe and secure.

According to Campus Safety magazine, more than nine out of 10 schools and universities deploy security cameras on their campuses. Additionally, 96% of the respondents say their campuses already have video surveillance systems, 66% say their organizations plan on purchasing or upgrading their video surveillance technology in the next three years.

Benefits of a school video security system

To better prepare themselves for any future situation, school safety and security teams use security cameras to mitigate campus crime and enhance visibility into day-to-day activities and operations. Three major benefits that CCTV on campus proivdes are:

  • Deter Crime on Campus: School surveillance can help protect students during regular school activities. School surveillance cameras, in particular, deter vandalism, thievery, and violence on school grounds, as well as many other sorts of suspicious or nefarious conduct, by regulating and standardizing school visitor management around the clock.
  • Remote monitoring: In 2020, we learned the importance of having remote cloud-based solutions. Security cameras enable administrators to monitor large open spaces remotely.
  • Peace of mind: The school’s trust in campus security is bolstered when they are able to view footage from school cameras. This results in a proactive safety environment where good behavior can be highlighted.

School security cameras and video surveillance in schools 

Installing security cameras in classrooms will ultimately depend on what administrators, parents, and teachers feel is best in terms of addressing the needs of the school. While the data shows that when used properly security cameras are a force for good, school districts need guidance to help ensure they follow best practices.

The bottom line is that by working with a professional security provider, schools can properly integrate security cameras and significantly strengthen their overall safety posture.

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