Big Brother Is Watching Truant Children

Posted: 05/12/2008 by that's Elbert in crime, News & Politics, opinions, schools
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This is from an article in the New York Times. The Dallas public school system is using an electronic tracking device to keep an eye on their kids who just don’t want to go to school.

Jaime used to snooze until 2 p.m. before strolling into school. He fell so far behind that he is failing most of his classes and school officials sent him to truancy court.

Instead of juvenile detention, Jaime was selected by a judge to be enrolled in a pilot program at Bryan Adams in which chronically truant students are monitored electronically. Since Jaime started carrying the Global Positioning System unit April 1, he has had perfect attendance.

They certainly attempt to make the devices look good.

Last year, case managers used a G.P.S. system to locate a truant student on the verge of overdosing on drugs, and they discovered that a student had skipped school because he was contemplating suicide.

So these tracking devices not only take care of truant kids, but they also save lives. They must be good! It sounds like snake oil or the promises found on an infomercial to me.

Dave Leis, a spokesman for NovaTracker, which makes the system used in Dallas, said electronic monitoring did not have to be punitive. “You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.”

Am I overreacting or does this just disturb you? Truancy can certainly be a big problem as it is for Dallas but even the suggestion of tagging someone with a device that will electronically keep track of them disturbs me. Apparently they are fine with it down there.

On Slashdot, from where I found the article, here is a sample of some of the comments:

*I’m just amazed that anyone can say that and not realize how Big Brother-ish they sound.

*As scary as programs like this are (and they are scary) we need to start thinking about when, not if, these kinds of things happen. At least I can see a giant transmitter strapped to my ankle. In 10 years it will be possible to pick up a box of microscopic RFID tags for relatively little cost. In 20 years it will probably be possible to create microscopic GPS systems that radio back their location.

Maybe reactionary, but it’s something to think about. Let me know what you think. Really.

UPDATE: I did overlook the fact that the kid mentioned in the article could have gone to jail or wear this thing. This may be seen as nothing more than what an adult might receive if they were given house arrest. Convicted criminals loose most of their rights anyway, right?


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