Watch CBS News

A Watchful Eye On Kids

The recent spate of school shootings has left educators with a sense of urgency that something needs to be done to keep children safe at school. Newnan High School in Georgia is one of the schools where educators have taken steps.

Over the last few years, security there has taken on a new look. It started with video cameras that keep a watchful eye on students. More recently, a police presence has made its way onto campus, complete with metal detectors to check for weapons.

While these measures may help zero in on dangerous kids, one might ask, have we gone too far? Have we created a police state for children?

CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Thalia Assuras interviews Principal Alan Wood from Newnan, Georgia and Dr. Irwin Hyman, co-author of Dangerous Schools: What We Can Do About the Physical and Emotional Abuse to Our Children.

After the recent school shootings in Littleton and Conyers, the focus in our country's schools has turned to safety. It turns out that many schools have had measures such as video surveillance, K-9 dogs and metal detectors for at least a year now. Alan Wood, principal at Newnan High School, just put a ban on book bags made of anything but see-through mesh.

The question is, has our school system taken things too far and stepped on children's rights?

"I think what should be crystal clear is that these are short-term measures," says Principal Wood. "These are discussions that the media has picked up on that try to split hairs between conveniences and freedoms. We're looking at every aspect of school safety we can to ensure the safety and welfare of our young people at this high school."

School Shootings
An Interactive Map of school shootings over the last two years
Click to Launch

Wood says America has become the kind of country that needs measures like those in his schools, and therefore educators must redefine security, and scrutinize every aspect of their operations.

"We are no more than a reflection of society. I've lng said that," he says. "You've heard of the most recently publicized shootings, six major shootings with 26 deaths. But what is not mentioned is that 11 children in this country die every two days from family abuse, neglect and violence.

We're a reflection of that societal pathology and we're taking every measure we can to maintain the integrity of our instructional program and produce safety for the young people," Principal Wood says.

Yet, Dr. Irwin Hyman feels programs like the one used in the high school in Newnan are harmful to children.

Dr. Irwin Hyman.
"It is a complete overreaction to the reality of what is going on," Dr. Hyman says. "If you look at the figures, and I've published them in my books, the chances of getting killed in this school for every kid is about 1 in 1.7 million." The bottom line is, he says, "we've overreacted."

Statistically, Dr. Hyman says, schools are the safest place in the world for kids. In fact, they're much more likely to get hurt anywhere else, and that includes the home.

"While what happened in Littleton is very keep introducing more and more police tactics in schools is a grave mistake," he says. ""It undermines children's sense of being nurtured. We don't have police in the homes and that's where most kids are killed, in the homes."

Furthermore, he says there is no evidence that any of these safety measures actually do any good. The schools involved in the recent shootings had many of these measures in place and it didn't make a difference.

So far, he says, we can only say that kids are hiding their weapons better now, and their parents may feel the problem is solved.

But Principal Wood argues that, as society changes, certain boundaries must be changed. In his school, he says, students have expressed concerns about the increased measures, but once they get used to them they don't complain.

"School still is a nice place," he insists. "I'm a believer in truth, justice and the American way. I think that we have adopted and had to take on a number of surrogate functions in society."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.