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Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms

I recently made a post on our facebook site that really caught a lot of buzz.  The topic was, cameras in classrooms with special needs children and those with communication issues.  I would argue that all children will have communication issues when fearful, but none the less, the topic was special needs.  Our response was huge.  We had about 50 unique posters and 94% stated that cameras should be placed in our children’s classrooms.  Interestingly, even the teachers were in favor of the cameras and said, “bring it on.”

So why on earth would parents and teachers feel so strongly that it is time for cameras in our schools?  Each commenter had different reasons and so i would like to discuss several of those reason here.


Look, we simply cannot pretend that bullying is not a huge issues in schools.  It IS!  In fact, studies show that 75% of children on the autism spectrum are victims of bullies.  They are easy targets.  Low functioning and non-verbal children, with autism, cannot fight back and tell on the bullies and high functioning children do not often have the social knowledge to determine who and when to tell.  There are rampant stories about children being verbally harrassed daily, trained to do inapropriate tasks for the amusement of the bullies and even being physically hurt by other children.  the more subtle bullying, the bullying that can do the most harm, happens in the classroom when the teacher is present but cannot hear.  One very high functioning child shared that the girls in the classroom all hated her.  Every time she would look up, another girl would give her a nasty look and tell her to stop staring.  In the line, they would back away from her and tell her that she was gross.  Although she had no mannerisms that would construed as gross, bathed regularly and was kind to everyone, she was being harrased daily.  Cameras in the classroom, that were randomly pulled and watched would have detected this so that this child would not have to fear and hate going to school.  Typical children face this kind of bullying every day.

Teacher Abuse

Look, we hate to say it also.  No one wants to believe that there are a few bad teachers out there.  But it does happen and we see it in the media.  Special Needs children are in even more danger of being abused because they are harder to work with, teachers may get less prase and because they do not tell.  in addition, teachers and aides have more opportunity to be alone with special needs children.  In addition, frustrated teachers, even in regular classrooms, will verbally abuse students.  But lets look at this from the other side, too.  More than one teacher and parent commented that cameras in the classrooms would also PROTECT our teachers from false allegations.  Right now, everything comes down to he said/ she said.

Parent/ Teacher Education

More than a few parents would really like to know how their child is learning, being interacted with and how they are progressing.  When my daughter was in an ABA center, we really wanted to know how to do ABA at home.  We had been told that this would be part of the program, but we also knew that we could not observe her when she knew we were watching.  She did not react the same way when we were present.  We were not afraid that she was being abused and we knew that other children were not bullying her.  We genuinely wanted more that a therapist showing us her statistical improvements.  Having her videotaped in the classroom would have really helped us to work with her at home.

The overall consensus, among teachers, parents and professionals that we talk to is that cameras in the classrooms are long overdue.  We realize that there are legal issues with privacy; however, many day cares and private schools have open door policies and cameras.  And more than a few have systems that allow parents to log on from work.  It is time to put the safety of our children and teachers as priority.


  1. Jorge says:

    San DIego News Channel 10 September 13th, 2012, 5pm news, just aired a PATHETIC story about a mom who killed her 5 yr old autistic son and the news casters seem sympathetic! And the news reporter even interviews another mom of autistic teen who is in Autism Society Groups, and who ALSO seems sympathetic! As if not disgusting enough, the friend of the mom who killed her autistic kid, is then interviewed, and you guessed it…she’s sympathetic. Stop and think. The kid was 5 years old. There are thousands of parents living with severely-autistic children and adults who are in there 30’s and 40’s and you don’t see these parents kill their kids. SHAME on San Diego news channel 10 for MINIMIZING the seriousness of killing or abusing autistic people. What a disgrace. What is this teaching public?

    That the autistic person isn’t worthy of living?

    That seems to be the message when people grow tired of hearing about populations that have special needs. We better gear up people and fight back because our kids are going to be abused and killed and the public is being primed to accept this, so the state and feds don’t have to spend money to help them. It’s psychological ops at its first stage.

    Way to go San Diego Channel News 10. Way to advocate for autistic population. What a DANGEROUS message to send public. SHAME on CHannel 10 news, Why didn’t you interview an expert in autism ADVOCACY that defends the autistics abused and killed?

  2. Ricky says: Dr. Drew interviews family who caught trusted caregivers abusing severely autistic son. Caregivers included a medical assistant (Matthew McDuffie) and an RN (Michael Garritson). Makes you wonder who families can trust, when even CNA’s are in the news for abusing patients both in home and in group homes and nursing care facilities. What is going on? Why is there an epidemic of health care professionals abusing disabled and elderly patients in various settings? What happened to taking pride in your job? What has happened to caring, loving commitment to patient safety and care? Are people too lazy and selfish now? Are they too busy with texting their friends, watching movies on lap tops or going on Facebook to be bothered with actually WORKING to help patients?

  3. Shai Powell says:

    I agree that cameras should be placed in special needs classrooms as I have two special needs sons currently enrolled in school. One of them was hit on several occasions by two different teachers. My other son was verbally assaulted on a daily basis as well as screamed at when he didn’t comply with the rules. I’ve had to go toe to toe with several schools and teachers over abusing my children and I even had to go as far as hiring a lawyer to ensure that my children were treated with compassion and respect. I think its very disheartening to have this issue especially with the teachers who should be the most understanding. I as a parent was even disrepected by teachers until they seen that I would fight back. A parent should never have to fight with the schools as the schools should be our allies not our opponents. I hope laws get passed to ensure the safety of our children.

  4. Jorge says:

    Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance….Albert Einstein. Seems like everytime an autistic person is abused the media and alleged autism experts come out with some quick fix, low level thinking remedy to prevent abuse, but the reality is without video surveillance capturing what is really going on behind closed doors and out of the range of adult protective agencies, nobody really knows what’s happening! All the seminars, symposiums, workshops and lectures will never address the reality that even those with pristine backgrounds can still be potential abusers of our most vulnerable citizens so the reality is without video surveillance, we will never know what is really going on. We need more legislation allowing video cameras in every setting where vulnerable, non verbal autistic adults and children are with caregivers, so that we can monitor and hold accountable those who betray society’s trust in a profession that is charged with the care of such vulnerable adults. For example, In California, the state thinks it’s a violation of privacy to allow cameras in a group home or special ed. setting. Really? How interesting that when we walk into a 7-11 we are video taped, because, God forbid, somebody might steal a SLUSHIE, but God forbid we may have a video camera in hope where somebody could be kicking, punching or sexually molesting a vulnerable autistic adult??? GET REAL PEOPLE>

  5. Becky Cash says:

    We agree Jorge. Unfortunately we know of too many situations where special needs adults and children are being abused. it is better to err on the side of the person who cannot defend themselves and to simply place cameras in classrooms and facilities.


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