Should Students be Tracked with RFIDs? The Pros & Cons of Location Tracking

There is no debate over whether kids should be kept safe at school. With growing concerns of intruders, shootings, behavioral issues, children bringing weapons to school and other dangers, there is no doubt school districts have to find ways to protect students on campus. However, how far is too far when it comes to school safety precautions?

Some schools have already implemented the use of RFID tags, and the idea of tracking someone’s location is far from new, but should this technology be used to track your kids? This post will cover the pros, cons, ethical concerns and the potential health risks of using chips to track students at school.

First, what is a RFID tag? RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification Device. These chips can be placed in ID cards and clothing and they transmit a unique serial number via radio signal to an electronic reader at the school’s entrance.

What are the pros of using RFIDs to track kids at school?

  • Tracking students’ location on campus aids in safety, because teachers know whether a child has shown up to school or not.
  • Location tracking can save time each morning. Roll call is replaced by technology, which saves time for learning.
  • School funding is based on average daily attendance, and if a child is checked in with their RFID, they’re accounted for and the school will receive funds whether they are in their desk or not.
  • Location tracking can cut down on truancy. This technology makes it harder for kids to “fly under the radar.”

What are the cons of using tracking devices?

  • Many who oppose the use of RFIDs say that they treat kids like cattle, and that they’re unethical.
  • If the chips are not encrypted, it is easy to clone a card and impersonate a student, or to skip school by having a substitute card.
  • Where the use of radio frequency is pervasive, potential health risks are heightened.
  • Those who oppose student tracking say that it is all for financial gain, and that students are no more safe than they’ve ever been.

Some schools have gone as far as adding RFIDs to student clothing. Parents, administrators and other officials may argue that this is a good solution for smaller children, but for middle and high school students it is crossing an ethical line. Also, the tracking chips do not work off campus, they must be within readable distance, so once a child is no longer on campus, they’re not being tracked. For older kids who care about their privacy, this is good, but it has sparked debate about the validity of using RFIDs. Are they REALLY for safety, or for maintaining funding?

As far back as 2004, schools began using tracking chips. Although the use of RFIDs in schools is still uncommon, it’s not new technology and it may become more popular as school violence becomes more common. Many students are already being tracked academically and behaviorally with smartphone apps. As technology continues to quickly evolve, so will the potential loss of privacy. Do you support tracking chips being added to student ID cards?

Resources:
https://www.wired.com/2012/09/rfid-chip-student-monitoring/
https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/can-schools-require-students-to-wear-tracking-chips/
http://www.teenink.com/opinion/school_college/article/612978/Problems-with-School-IDs/

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