If you’re a parent with a kid in high school and was issued a school notebook, you should be very alarmed about this story out of Pennsylvania.
The story begins last year when Blake Robbins – a student at Harriton High School in the Lower Merion School District – was called into the assistance principal’s office and confronted the teen with an image that showed him allegedly popping pills.
It turned out be candy and the photo was taken at the student’s home.
Fast-forward to now and more allegations have emerged in a lawsuit filed by the parents to indicate that school administrators knew about the secret photos taking from the webcam and more than 400 photos were snapped, including some of Robbins in his underwear. The district’s own investigation concluded that more than 56,000 images of screen captures, web history and pictures from the webcam were recorded; including some instances when the webcam kept recording photos after a signal was sent to stop capturing photos.
District authorities stop short of connecting this case to the ones where the webcam kept capturing photos.
This story also brings up another instance when the PBS’s news series, Frontline, aired a segment showing school administrators logging into kids’ notebooks and monitoring every move they made on the notebook; sometimes even messing with them if they have the webcam software open.
I was in high school and we were told that school administrators can monitor our web activity anytime while on school property but let’s be honest; there is a difference between monitoring web activity than having a web cam taking photos of the child without notice, especially when not on school property.
Allegations will made – if not already – to place the blame on Robbins but the damage is done and it reveals that school administrators have abused their surveillance power. If these allegations are true about photos showing the child in his underwear; federal charges can – and should – be filed, including child pornography.
The FBI has joined the investigation as well.
In the meantime, if your child gets to take home a school-issues notebook, don’t use it at home. And if kids are allowed to bring their notebooks home, put black tape on the webcam.