Dubai: Parents in the UAE favour security over privacy concerns for their children at school, an education summit heard on Wednesday in Dubai.
When video surveillance is under the management of the school, three in four parents believe cameras do not infringe student privacy, the UAE School Safety presentation showed at the International and Private Schools Education Forum.
Ettiene Van Der Watt from network video company Axis, who discussed school safety concerns during the presentation, said hardware is just one aspect of security.
“If we see there is a camera, we feel and we assume things are safe. What we don’t really question or understand are the challenges — what’s happening to that feed? Is it preventive? Is it just there to say, ‘yes, we have a camera’, or are we really using it in an operational, beneficial way?”
Van Der Watt, who is regional engineering and training manager for the Mena region at Axis, stressed the need for capable school staff and systems to ensure security and safety technology is made purposeful rather than ornamental.
He added: “Sometimes the technology arrives, but the adaptation process never takes place at school. All these things are there, but it’s about how we can use them to prevent things, not just to put it there as a camera, or a device or an audio system.”
School safety survey
The presentation also reiterated findings of the 2016 UAE School Safety Survey, held every two years, which polled over 950 parents on their top worries for children at school.
Bullying (52 per cent) was found to be the top school safety concern for UAE parents, followed by risks in the school playground (42 per cent), and “student-perpetrated violence” (37 per cent) and “outside-perpetrated violence” (37 per cent), which refers to incidents outside the gated school campus.
The survey by Axis had run for over two weeks before the last summer season to gather feedback from parents, over 85 per cent of whom had children aged three to 15 in schools, and over half of whom had lived in the UAE for more than eight years.
Three in four of the respondents wanted more school investment in safety and security measures such as surveillance, access controls, advanced fire detection systems and security guards.
Virtually all parents (97 per cent) backed video surveillance at key points to keep an eye on children, as well as to speed up response time in case of emergencies.