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Slashdot Meets The Pinkerton Corp.

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the somebody-is-listening-out-there dept.

United States 596

The chairman of the Pinkerton Corp. has agreed to meet with me Wednesday about the more than 1,000 objections posted last week on Slashdot to the company's WAVE America so-called school-safety program. The program, kicking off in North Carolina, offers schoolkids cash, caps and other incentives to turn in "depressed and dangerous" classmates to an anonymous toll-free number. Pinkerton brass say they have read each of the Slashdot comments and want to talk. (Read more about the meeting, and post any questions you have for Pinkerton here.)

The Chairman and lead Web developer of the Pinkerton Corporation have agreed to my request to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday and talk with company officials face-to-face abaout the objections many Slashdot readers have to the company's new "WAVE America" program.

WAVE America is a private, for-profit school-safety program gearing up in North Carolina -- with the enthusiastic support of the governor -- and going nationwide. It offers incentives (caps, T-shirts, cash) to students who call a toll-free number and anonymously turn in classmates they believe to be depressed or dangerous.

A company executive tells me that Pinkerton brass have already read all of the more than 1,000 posts about the program posted on Slashdot last week, and are considering some changes in WAVE America, including the cash and goodies. The company says it is also already revamping its vague criteria for identifying disturbed or dangerous kids, using specific symptoms recommended by psychiatric organizations.

I told the company official who called me that frankly, I hoped to convince Pinkerton to scrap this anonymous call-in program entirely. This kind of Draconian response to Columbine is unjustified, given that violence among children has been declining for years and that the horrific massacres are as random as they are rare. This kind of anonymous reporting encourages schookids to make judgments that therapists and counselors ought to be making, and could easily target the weird, geeky, unhappy and non-normal as well as the dangerous. It suggests the worst kind of Geek Profiling, in the process wantonly violating constitutional protections against unwarranted intrusions, search and seizure.

But I was surprised by the company's willingness to meet with me. I've been writing about variations on this issue for years. Large corporations are rarely -- in fact, never -- this responsive. Pinkerton executives said they were reading through all of the Slashdot posts, finding some of them compelling and convincing.

If Pinkerton eventually alters this program, it would mark a significant step in the use of the Net to provide individuals -- especially the young, who are historically voiceless in media as well as corporations -- with direct access to powerful entities that often aren't paying attention to anything but stock prices.

My expectations aren't high, but I said I valued a conversation over a confrontation and would keep an open mind if Pinkerton would. I also asked if I could post a message asking Slashdot readers whether they had specific questions about WAVE America -- one of a number of "school-safety" programs launched in the wake of the Columbine killings last year. So if you have any questions or opinions you'd like me to relay to the Pinkerton people I'll be meeting with, please post them here. They can read them directly on the site, or I can relay them. I'll report back on the meeting in a few days.

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Friends from HS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1151543)

Hrrm. I dunno, it seemed like most of the actual "druggies" and such at my school were the more popular kids. You usually don't think of the unpopular geek kicking your ass... As for people who were blowing up the school, something like this would probably just set them off. Suicidals and such? Yeah, I could picture them turning up dead after being singled out. This is a great f*cking system... /sarchasm

One VERY important question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1151544)

To all you Slashdot readers who complain that this program is not worth it, I have only one question for you:

what if it saved your child's life?

Thank you.

Re:One VERY important question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1151549)

... at the expesnse of 10 or more innocents...

FIRST HAIKU (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1151550)

End the police state,
I feel victimised and shunned.
Typical JonKatz.

Thank you.

Ray Bradbury (1)

Casca (4032) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151565)

Doesn't this story just smack of something Ray Bradbury might have written? It reminds me of one of the television episodes I saw years ago about a child that was given an IQ test, and then when the results were too high he was murdered. This stuff is scary as hell, and I have been out of high school for years.

I just got an anonymous tip (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151600)

that Pinkerton is having sevear cash flow problems and are so desperate to keep stockholders happy that they are willing to try anything and that this is really a scheme to capitalize on school shootings to kidnap people for their Internet child pornography ring.

Is the WAVE name a coincidence? (1)

NYC (10100) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151601)

Is there any link to the name of the program and the name of the afternoon-special movie WAVE [imdb.com] ?

--Ivan, weenie NT4 user: bite me!

just show up. (1)

einstein (10761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151605)

well, Jon, lets just hope you catch your plane. don't want to have you miss it like you did for Geek Pride :)

Naming WAVE (1)

pjones (10800) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151606)

Were the Pinkies or their PR firm familiar with Ron Jones' famous classroom experience in fascism as cronicled in his book "No Substitute for Madness," in the 1981 tv-movie "The Wave" or the novelization by Todd Strasser? Aren't they concerned that their program evokes memories of many of the aspects of that experience? Are they aware that "the Wave" is taught in many classrooms nationally and internationally?

Re:wasn't this a tv movie? (1)

Lucifer (19222) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151637)

The swastika has never had an innocuous meaning. The swastika is an evil sunwheel. The difference is that a swastika rotates counterclockwise. A sunwheel is a positive sign.

The SS armbands DID appropriate an innocuous symbol for an evil purpose. Hitler was really interested in Odhinnism and Norse mythology in general, but only so far as it could be used as a tool to enslave people's minds.

Re:The Wave (1)

Bishop282 (21780) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151641)

I remember this movie too. The teacher keeps building the group and tells the members one day that their leader will address them. He gets everybody in the auditorium and pulls back the curtain to a full screen of Hitler giving one of his speeches. A very compelling movie.

Here [imdb.com] it is at IMDb.

freebies (1)

lythander (21981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151644)

Are they giving away brown shirts? I find they really compliment my blonde hair and blue eyes.

Two questions... (1)

theCoder (23772) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151648)

My biggest question is how they plan on stopping abuse of their system. The program in principle seems like a relatively good idea (it's basically no different from a student telling a teacher that he/she thinks something is wrong with another student). However, there is a lot of room for abuse for any number of reasons. Mayber student A is mad at student B, so A turns B in by making up stuff. Or maybe A just wants to have a little fun. Who knows. But it ends up wasting lots of time and money and can be very embarassing for student B. All this without a way to track student A down.

So I think that perhaps the degree of anonymity should be restricted. Student A can be anonymous to the school unless it turns out to be a bad call, and then the school can find out who it was and punish the offender, or somthing like that.

My other question is how low key is this operation? When a (assumably legitamite) call is received, do they only tell the school, first try the parents and then maybe the school? I would hope that they _never_ intentionally call the media over something like this, but how would they prevent leaks by operators? Is that even possible? How secure is their database of calls?

(I guess this turned out to be more than 2 questions :)

It's easy to understand (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151655)

Kids raised with no rights will not miss
them when they are grown.

Very simple thing to do.
Especially in a free country.

Just look around at what is happening.

Yes, I think it was called The Wave. (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151667)

If you or your parents etc are / were late-hippy types, I think you can find the story reprinted in the 1980 or 86 Whole Earth Catalog.

There's also a strange film I've seen about a teacher who wanted to demonstrate the power of conformity etc by telling her kids that everyone with blue eyes was superior to those without out -- and the kids rigidly enforced this "truth." When the teacher revealed that she'd been 'wrong' and really it's the blue-eyes who were inferior, all the non-blues were quick to prove that this, too, was true.

Anyone know the name of that one?

timothy

The obvious questions (1)

chazR (41002) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151676)

I am sure you already intend to ask the following, but here goes anyway:

Assuming you are really planning to implement this scary system, how will it work? When you get an anonymous (or even open) report of someone who is reported to be acting 'oddly', what happens next? Who is informed? Teachers? Parents? Police?

How are 'reports' corroborated? Or do you intend to act first, ask questions later?

Are you concerned that you could be handing a vicious, nasty little weapon to irresponsible people? How do you vet the 'reporters' to ensure they are not acting out of malice rather than concern?

What recourse do the accused have? I would hope that they are presented with any allegation, including *all* relevant facts This includes *all* records that you have about them. Will they have free access to an adult who will represent their viewpoint and are assumed innocent of *everything* until there is *real* evidence of wrongdoing. Real wrongdoing, not just 'Not fitting in', or 'Having a bad attitude'

Are you concerned that you are undermining the role of teachers and parents? That you are attempting to remove some responsibility from the people who *should* be caring for children with emotional problems?

Finally, are you aware that you could easily get your behinds sued off, bigtime? Are your shareholders aware of the legal risks you are taking with their money?

Bounty on Jocks not Geeks! (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151679)

How about offering teens some money to turn in jocks/popular kids that harras the kids that do not fit the "social norm".

Exactly! If it weren't for the tauntings and beatings of the jock class and the humiliations of the cheerleader class, geeks could continue their work improving society to pay for the useless jock and cheerleader drones who sponge off our work.

Don't attack the results of the behaviour, get to the root of the behavioural problems. Geeks don't kill people - Jocks cause Geeks to kill people ...

Suing Pinkerton for Fun and Profit (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151680)

Maybe we could get together a class action lawsuit on behalf of all the Geeks who become "profiled" as a result of being harassed, beaten up, and taunted by jocks and cheerleaders.

It's America, after all ...

Re:I have a report (1)

gonzocanuck (44989) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151684)

LOL! my nerdy friends and I used to sit outside the library and play cribbage because, altho we were fair friends with the librarian, he thought cards were the tool of the devil. Sigh.

Too true (1)

gonzocanuck (44989) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151687)

Man, I totally forgot about those cheers where our school would "crush" and "defeat" some other team. I hated mandatory pep rallies. They were so loud and boring and I could never be a part of the good ol' 3-minute Hate :-)

wrongfully accused due to convenience (1)

lordbry (46768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151689)

When I was in HS, I was wrongfully accused of something because it was convenient to someone.

Someone I was aquainted with was busted for having drugs on school property. He was asked to name names of other people who used drugs... I was named, when I had done nothing wrong. I was then taken from class, questioned for an hour, and then excluded from school until I had a drug test... All on my mothers graduation from grad school day. It not only affected me, but my family on what should have been a very happy day.

The next day, after taking the test, I was allowed back into my small high school. All my teachers knew what I had been accused of, and everywhere I went in that building, teachers were watching me. The students all heard about it. They were all watching me. My family all knew about it. I still get comments to this day.

Now, that was an accusation of convenience... What is going to happen when kids get rewarded for turning in other kids?

When it comes down to getting something for free, in this society, kids will turn in even friends. Some of them will do it maliciously. Some will do it out of spite. Some will do it because they think it is the cool think to do. But the point is that kids WILL be turned in who would never harm a fly.

The proposed system will not only not work, but it will move this society into an age of freedom at a price... If your opinions aren't the norm, you WILL be persecuted.

Re:One VERY important question (1)

lordbry (46768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151690)

and what if someone turned in a child, and that put so much stress on them that they decided to take their life?

What if it was your child?

How will Pinkerton avoid misclassifications ? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151698)

How will Pinkertons avoid missing potential troublemakers? By tightening the sieve so that more innocents are caught?

In America, we have a long tradition of cherished freedoms. We seem to be willing to suffer the insecurity this causes.

How will Pinkertons avoid becoming unAmerican? How will you avoid becoming a Gestapo, however well meaning?

Re:Make Money Fast (1)

palutke (58340) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151702)

It also sounds like a great spamming opportunity. Post a message to a few hundred USENET groups, and turn in the people who flame you as 'dangerous'.

Re:you're confusing the issue (1)

Deep Penguin (73203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151730)

OK... Let's go out and arrest (harass) 1 in 10 adults in a bar because one of them _might_ get behind the wheel drunk and kill your child. Mind you, these adult bar patrons haven't actually done anything more provocative than assemble in a place that legally sells intoxicating beverages, but we have statistics that show that some people _do_ drink and drive. Let's just start harassing people who drink because those are the ones that will kill our kids on the roads.

Now does it make more sense?

What I want to know... (1)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151731)

What I want to know is what are they going to do once they have an anonymous tip? Who will they be reporting this to? Will they post these individuals names on a web site (let's hope not) will they contact the faculty at the school? Will they compile a list of these individuals accessible to law inforcement agencies? And how are they going to verify that any of this information is true?

It also says that they are a "for-profit" group, how are they going to accomplish this? Sell the list of dangerous kids?

This is truly a scary day.

Re:Blown away... (1)

ovlaski (73485) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151733)

I don't think it is a violation of consitutional rights. As far as I know, kids don't have constitutional rights.

Re:I have a report (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151747)

LOL! my nerdy friends and I used to sit outside the library and play cribbage because, altho we were fair friends with the librarian, he thought cards were the tool of the devil. Sigh.

I am not familiar with cribbage what do you use instead of cards? What area of the world was this? The only people I really find to hate cards are usually really uberconservative religious folks because it allows you to get money for not doing something.

Re:Finally... (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151748)

Finally, someone out there is actually paying attention to the minors out there. Being a minor, I know how it feels. -Z3Penguin P.S First post

Well you didn't get the first post by I know how you feel. Organizations like social services, various school "security" forces and the like are in fact ever present in schools nowadays.

I would ask this of the Pinkerton group.

On what basis does an individual have no right to due process or fair treatment? Also interactions amongst psychological related professions is in fact usually held to the strictest of confidence and on the whole nothing that should be made a general tactic to spear someone that is not dangerous.

Prying into personal affairs of individuals without their concent just because of they way that they act is in fact harassment. Just because the person in question is in fact not a major does not make them without rights. Also on what legal basis do you make claims of labeling a person "depressed" and what "treatment" does that person get to have. I understand that to some extent that the schools are en local parentis whoever don't parents have a say about how their children are to be treated by the system? Ultimately perhaps letting parents talk to their children rather than have them unvoulentarily brought before the judgement seat may be the best approach.

Acting sad/lonely/or depressed is not in and of itself a problem. What should be addressed are concerete things. Like carying drugs/guns around or other known dangerous objects.

Having a particularly plutonic frame of mind is not a bad thing in the least.

America: Long tradition of cherished freedom. (1)

larard (89623) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151766)

Traditions like the Salem witch trials? Or more like McCarthyism? or is it the freedoms like letting every idiot get his hands on a gun. Come on guys! We have something like 20 hand gun deaths in the UK per year. When will you realise that Guns do kill people, and they make killing people easy. This is really going to annoy a lot of people (as some think that free software and the freedom to bear arms go hand in hand), but what the hell, if only it was registered members of the NRA that got shot every time I'd be a little happier

But where does it go? (1)

laborit (90558) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151773)

Before making assumptions about WAVE being used to persecute geeks, let's see what they have to say about what happens after you call WAVE [waveamerica.com] .
After your call, the WAVE Line prepares a written report and sends it to the responsible person at your school for review. If you choose to remain anonymous, great care is taken to ensure that neither your name nor any identifying details are included in this report. Your school handles reports received from the WAVE Line in the same manner that they handle reports received through other direct communication channels.
As others have pointed out, there is nothing wrong per se with giving kids a chance to report bullying, threats, and dangerous behavior. The big question is whether the information goes to ignorant, intolerant, "peace through conformity" administrators or to well-trained, sympathetic counselors who can distinguish nonconformity from psychological distress from sociopathy. That's what we need to be asking WAVE. How do they determine who, in the school system, gets the information? Do they have any requirements for training or education? Do they preface the information with sufficient disclaimers and encourage the recipients to verify it and act with caution? Or do they bill themselves as an infallable window into the inner workings of the school population?

They'll have to do a lot to win my confidence after offering corporate partners [waveamerica.com] the chance to "significantly impact the safety and success of our nation's youth, while gaining expansive marketing exposure in the process." Some assurance that they were paying a little attention to the quality of their information's recipients would go a long way.
****

Re:Is the WAVE name a coincidence? (1)

Rantage (96467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151791)

Yes Jon, bring that movie to their attention. I'd love to hear about their reaction!
Online gaming for motivated, sportsmanlike players: www.steelmaelstrom.org [steelmaelstrom.org] .

Hit them where it really hurts (1)

thinmac (98095) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151796)

The big question for me is what do they get out of it? They're not going to make any money by giving away t-shirts to kids who rat out people at school. Do they still make money if people don't call in? Do they only make money if the schools decide to hire them?

Question for Pinkertons (1)

cprincipe (100684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151799)

Given their history of strikebreaking in the railway and mining strikes at the end of the 1800's and beginning of the 1900's, how can they be relied upon to conduct this program with an eye to doing anything except reinforcing the status quo?

I have a suggestion for Pinkerton & co. (1)

Count Spatula (103735) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151805)

How about removing the anonymity? Give the accused students a chance to confront their accusors ("I don't talk to you, drekhead, because I don't *like* you! That's why I seem distant!"). Surely the anonymity allows for major abuse by malicious students (which were, in my high school, almost invariably the rich, popular athletes and those whose parents were societal elites.)

for profit and accountability?? (1)

tokengeekgrrl (105602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151809)

The 2 most obvious problems with the WAVE approach are the profit motives of both the students and the company. Students being rewarded for being anonymous? How does that teach personal responsibility?

What I find even more disturbing is that Pinkerton is a business which means their bottom-line is profit driven. In order for the WAVE to be successful, won't it need to prove itself as being able to determine who the "troublemakers" are - even if none exist? What accountability is there to guarantee that the company isn't going to alter profiles of certain students?

In my opinion, the likelihood of the WAVE being abused by either the students or the company is inevitable.

- tokengeekgrrl
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions

Re:Accountability (1)

Gone Jackal (108992) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151822)

Easy: if they don't know who you are, how are you going to get your t-shirt?

I don't believe it. (1)

Raymond Luxury Yacht (112037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151826)

I have just read an entire bit by Katz... and I (pretty much) agree with everything.

*looking out window for flying pigs...*

What you might consider asking them is if they intend to offer something similar for turning in preppie and jock kids who routinely abuse, rape, assault and otherwise make life miserable for their fellow students. Transgressions of such a repugnant nature happen every day and schools or administrators seem to be perfectly content to allow that to continue. But God/Gods/Allah/etc. forbid some student wear all black and listen to Agent Orange or The Sex Pistols!

THE SYSTEM MUST FALL (1)

cbustapeck (116328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151839)

I am not advocating the following action - it just struck me as slightly funny, and something that might work. However, I am not certain of the legal implications. Therefore, I cannot advocate it.

Turn in everyone
IF you are in a town that institutes such a system, go to your local library and get the yearbook for the high school (the local libraries almost always have them) and then call the number and turn in every student. At the time that 95+ percent of the students in the school had been turned in, they might realize that something was wrong with the system.

What safegaurds are in place? (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151843)

I want to know what safegaurds are in place to prevent the popular kids from using this as just one more technique to harass those that don't "fit in". Overreactions to Columbine have flooded schools across the country.

My questions: "What checks and balances are going to be put in place to keep abuses from occuring? Are they going to take any proactive actions to avoid profiling? What happens if someone is turned in? Does a qualified Pscyhiatrist answer the phone? What process is there to let someone know they are being turned in before they are on the shortlist?

Most /.'s have probably been "profiled", played lots of quake, enjoyed AD&D, and have never ever gone a shooting rampage. Profiling like this is only going to make life all the more misreble for those students who fit the stereotype.

incentives (1)

xianzombie (123633) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151852)

...with the enthusiastic support of the governor -- and going nationwide. It offers incentives (caps, T-shirts, cash) to students...

So what they get is a "I Harrased the School Geek, and all I got was this Stupid T-Shirt"?

i don't get it

hmmm (1)

scott@b (124781) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151854)

So they're offering incentives :
T-shirts - gang identification
cash - well, cash
caps - drugs
to turn in other students. Seems to be good old American Know-How to me. More seriously, even "specific symptoms recommended by psychiatric organizations" often appear to have a bias against the oddballs in society; the Soviet Union was rather famous for this, as is mainland China.

The "Wave Promise", while it may read as a somewhat hokey "be nice to one another", is a valid approach to social interactions. What isn't clear to me is what goes along with the basic pledge - what does "Treat others with respect" really mean, how much tolerance for other opinions and lifestyles goes along with that?

A real difficulty is waht happens when someone is tagged as depressed or dangerous, is checked out, and determined to be OK. Someone at the school is going to know that individual or group was checked out, certainly the student who reported them. Do those people become lepers or madmen that somehow are still walking around loose? Or is the program going to give feedback on why these people are not a threat - tough to do with anonymous tips, although the school's adminstration could be given the feedback and then act to attempt to increase tolerance. I personally doubt that they could be very effective in many cases, the inertia , fear of liability and news coverage if someone slips through the screening, and not wanting to publicly label the individuals if it becomes apparent that they had been so tagged. Scarlet letters are hard to get rid of.

I'd be much happier if there was explicit strong support for helping kids with problems, phone numbers for them to call. Work both sides of the problem. Forget incentives, that's just an opening for abuse (although it might be fun to turn the student government in for cash).

Am I the only one that sees this? (1)

Dysan2k (126022) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151858)

Ok.. caps and shirts... BAD idea! Why?

Little Jimmy turns in Bob as a depressed psycho. Jimmy gets a cap, and Bob is suddenly put through six weeks of couseling. Bob was depressed because his cat was run over that morning, but would've gotten over it in a few days. Now he's been told he 'hates his father for killing the cat, and secretly wants to run over his father just to revenge the cat.'

Now Bob didn't want his head messed with, but NOW he is REALLY confused and upset. He sees Jimmy at the local arcade, where Jimmy is wearing his 'Snitch on the Sick' cap. Bob didn't know that Jimmy really was the person that turned him in, but decides to beat poor Jimmy into a bloody mess for all the shit he's had to go through.

Bob would've been fine, but because of kids thinking they're now able to diagnose psycological problems, Bob has become noted as a 'dangerous individual'. First depressed and now violent.

Where was the original problem? People are too damned paranoid! Granted, this would be a worse-case senario, but it's not by any stretch out of line. I know too many instances where similar things have happened. No identifying marks for the snitch.. it'll cost him/her too much.

please take the amflag off this (1)

small_dick (127697) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151860)

...literally, it makes me nauseous to see the american flag associated with such a thing.

parody it with flames, or replace with chi-comm, rus-comm, or nazi, please!

we used to joke about all kinds of odd stuff when i was in high school -- i have no doubt our little group would be the first to go.

...and it would be the "goody" group to turn us in.

horrid pinkerton scum. repression and fear tactics cause violence, they don't cure it.

just like them to jump on a hot button issue for publicity. disgusting.

My questions for Pinkerton Inc. (1)

kd5biv (129563) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151862)

I see a couple of really serious problems with the W.A.V.E. plan:

1. Anyone listed as potentially dangerous is apparently listed for life, not just for the time they are in the school. Since Pinkerton is not an official government agency (at least not anymore), these records are not completely private and can have devastating effects on a listed student's future job prospects as well as any dealings with the criminal justice system. What does Pinkerton plan to do with the data, and how can students be sure their records are purged when they leave school?

2. Anonymous referral is a system that encourages abuse by students wishing to harass their classmates, and since students have no way of determining whether they have been reported and by whom, they must live in fear that any action they take that is seen as 'different' can potentially ruin their standing in school or future higher education plans, as well as future employment and so on. This creates an extremely oppressive environment that enforces an artificial conformity and drives any students that *are* dangerous and/or violent even further underground. How does Pinkerton plan to address this problem, and would it be possible to require corroborating referrals and track students who abuse the reporting system?

I feel very strongly, as a person who would have almost certainly ended up on this list during my junior high and high school years, that students have rights that they do not simply check at the school door. We may be concerned about student safety and protecting the morals of our children, but students, especially unpopular ones, deserve to know that their rights will be protected against abuses by their classmates and deserve a chance to correct misperceptions by others who may not understand them or outright slander by others who are actively trying to do harm. I am not at all convinced that W.A.V.E. is the plan that satisfies these requirements.

Re:please take the amflag off this (1)

Dungeon Dweller (134014) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151874)

The graphic is representational of the topic under which this story is filed. It isn't a graphic thrown in based on personal preference. It is inserted by the perl script upon which this system is based. It wasn't meant to be offensive or associate this story with the american credo or anything, it is just a visual cue for people who like reading stories about the government in the US. Besides, it is government inside the US that is allowing this to take place, and NC tax dollars that are paying these people to run this program. If you want to see it change, then petition NC, or file with the court system saying that the program is bad, the system is merely profiling the topic as it is entered in the database.

Yeah, this is great... (1)

Dungeon Dweller (134014) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151875)

Hrmm lets see.
I usually associate people getting beat up with geeky depressed weeklings.
Bombings and such, yeah, this wouldn't just set them off...
Suicidals, yeah, singling them out would make them feel way better.
I had a friend in HS who could have used this... Yeah, but he was popular and not depressed at all... Go figure, the people with drugs have a click that they fit into. My friend would never have been turned in on something like this, eventually his mother had him arrested...
Yeah, this sounds like a great system... /sarchasm

Questions (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151879)

1. How does Pinkerton plan a dealing with children who turn in other children for spite?
2. How does Pinkerton deal with children that make an honest mistake turning in another child?
3. How can Pinkerton tell the difference between question 1 & 2?
4. What if a student feels his/her teacher qualifies to be called in?
5. How long are records kept on a child who has been reported on by his peers?
6. Should teachers use this method?
7. How will rewards be distributed?
8. What if a couple of Jocks decide to beat the crap out of someone who you have profiled as dangerous? what recourse does the victim have? When I went to high school, there was no recource for the victim, because football is all that matters
9. Where are you going to draw the line that says This is normal/this is not? Yes extreme cases are easy to Identify, but what about the others?
10. Will parents be notified if there child has been Identified as dangerous?
11. What about the accused constitutional right to know there accusers?
12. What qualifications does Pinkerton have for this sort of activity? Especially since it is almost impossible to identify someone as depressed or dangerous without several meeting with a qualified therapist.
13. What is the projected income to Pinkerton for this activity?
14. How do you expect us to believe your doing this, with the childrens best interest in mind, when your making money?
I would also like to thank you for taking the time to answer question in this forum.

Re:One VERY important question (1)

RottenDeadite (137213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151886)

Let me put it to you this way:

If I sucked so much at parenting that I needed a 1-800 number and a private organization to tell me that my child was depressed, I don't think I'd be predisposed to do anything about it.

A parent who's unaware of a mood so extreme that their kid's peers have to do something about it is probably both part of the problem and not the solution.

Now, for those children who don't have a caring parent to spot when they're depressed, this kind of service might be appropriate. But there's a few good reasons why it won't work, and those are already being discussed in other threads.

This AC's commment has irritated me so much, I'm going to stop typing before I say something really inflamatory.

***JUMP PAD ACTIVATION INITIATION START***
***TRANSPORT WHEN READY***

Re:Make Money Fast (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151890)

Unless they think of it first

Re:One VERY important question (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151891)

At the cost of ruining how many OTHER childeren's lives? Someone on /. used to use this as a .sig, and it is a great quote "Those who sacrifice freedom for saftey will loose both and deserve neither" Any student of history can tell you the truth of this statement.

So we must all be dangerous... (1)

MadDreamer (143443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151902)

When I was young, I had few friends. I didn't get along with everyone else. I sat in the corner reading. I played Doom religiously. I listened to God knows what kind of music. I liked sci-fi, horror, crazy off-kilter stuff. I never liked to speak up in class, I tried to stay back from the crowd. I continued this way until the last semester of my senior year of high school.

By the way, I also graduated valedictorian and went to college on a scholarship.

Most of my small circle of friends were the same way. And yes, they almost all graduated well and received scholarships as well.

So yes, sounds like a great idea, lets reward those students who are in every class, the ones who look for any reason to go to the teacher and say, "He's reading a dirty book!"

(And just because it happens to have a strange title or weird cover art doesn't make it dirty, for those of you who were wondering)

Let's give them just another reason to feel good for going to 'tattle' on someone, in fact, let's reward them for it.

It's a dog eat dog world! Let's teach them that early. Weed out the weak, what do they accomplish? Bunch of freaks hiding in the corners!

-Mad Dreamer

responsibility (1)

kuzinov (155239) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151922)

Although,I'm sure it sound like a good idea on paper or at a cocktail party.Pinkerton's plan is inherently flawed.It seems designed from the ground up for abuse.Offering money for turning in someone is corrupting enough,letting high school age kids turn each other in for money is the worst idea I have heard in a long time.In fact,I believe that their system will be so swamped by false,vindictive reports,any serious reports will be lost in the spam.

Re:One VERY important question (1)

derrickh (157646) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151929)

That's a loaded question.

What if we imprisioned every minority that makes less than $15,000 a year? The odds are pretty good that one of those millions of people would've killed someone's child. But does that make it right?

How about we sterilize every 17-24 yr old male that has watched a porno? I'm sure that we just saved someone's daughter from rape. But does that make it right?

Let's report every teen who feels left out, depressed, plays violent games, or wears black every day. We 'may' have stopped a school shooting, but at what cost?

D

He read *every* comment? (1)

Signal 69 (159601) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151934)

So, what does he think about people pouring grits down their pants? :-)

So close, and yet so far away... (1)

mfinke (160527) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151939)

I applaud Pinkerton's effort to try and make America's schools safe places for children to learn. However they're going about this all wrong. They need to spend their monies educating the educators and counslers on how to spot truely disturbed kids. They could also place counslers into schools to help out those that are overburdened and/or too poor to afford such a service. Possibably even assemble a group of psychiatrists who would be willing to evaluate children identified as potentially troubled at a reduced rate, if not for free if refered to them by this system.

I don't have a problem with giving help to those who need it, especially in their formative years. However the identification of such children, as well as their treatment, should be left to the professionals not to the uninformed who are getting rewards to do so.

Rewards for harassed? (1)

nixdorf_ (161552) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151944)

I'm sure that this outlandish idea will prove a bit successful, but the fact that it's a witch hunt is undeniable. I was just wondering if the Pinkerton Corp. was willing to offer the same "cash and goodies" to the innocent victims of this invasion of privacy. Since when is it a crime to be different? Would someone have turned Einstein in for looking different?

nixdorf

Question (1)

Red Weasel (166333) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151960)

My question for Pink would be how long is the data collected kept and what is done with the information. Is it automatically forwarded to law enforcement or just to the Principal and counselor at the school in question? Is the Data permanently on the child's record? Also would you be instructing the counselors and principles on how to deal with these situations?

Questions about the past (1)

Dr Qwe (168196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151963)

Granted, I'm too young to have lived through the McCarthy era (http://grid.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1990/ch8_p5.htm). But I learned about it in history class. The McCarthy trials were always taught as a low point for American rights, for American freedoms. A time when friends and neighbors turned on each other and where even being thought to be a communist would ruin ones career. I would press Mr. Katz to remember the McCarthy trials, and to ask Pinkerton Corp. if they remember the McCarthy trials. And if one of the goals of studying history is to not make the same mistakes we made before.

depression (1)

Perdy (168594) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151967)

I never saw the first post of this, and i guess it's a good thing that i didn't, because i would have gone off on ranting and raving. Personally, i think this is seriously wrong. To get a fucking prize for saying someone is depressed? you know how many people would have new clothes every week just from me alone? depression in school is tough, and guidance conselors and whatnot do not help in anyway. hell, i even say a shrink for awhile, what did he teach me? to argue my points stronger as to why this world is BS, and how none of it really matters, and none of it is worth a shit. these are my opinions to this day, and yet if this were happening in my school while this program was going on? what? someone would get a cap? would get a fucking t-shirt? that sounds like t-shit to me. look, i'm sorry if i'm going off the topic, or for all the profanity, but i'm just typing, and i'm really upset about this. hell, i didn't even read the full body of text (which i prolly should have) but the first couple lines are just enough for me. To me, i think this is sickening. appearently these people have never been depressed. And they don't know what it's like to live like that, and then on top of it to have a PROFIT organization be told about it, and then have them do whatever, counsole? who knows, like i said, i'm sorry if i'm going off topic, or just saying stuff that really doesn't mean anything to you. but i'm too irritated with this. i seriously .... ugh.

Re:Questions for the Pinkerton Corp. (1)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151975)

They came first for the Communists...but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews... but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Unionists...but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Unionist.

Then they came for the Perl programmers, and I said "Well, seems that nobody's all bad".

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151976)

Look on the bright side; Pinkertons has a long and ugly history of having people beaten up, from its days providing strike-breaking goons to Ford and Rockefeller. If Katz pisses them off sufficiently, there's an outside chance that they may decide to work him over.

sure, cash brings out the best in people (1)

issachar (170323) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151978)

sounds like a proposal a heard about a few years ago to pay kids to stay off drugs. now is it just me or does the idea of paying people for doing something socially responsible seem stupid? (and it is responsible to tell something if you think the person sitting next to you is going to blow Susie's head off tomorow)

something like this is just WAY too open to abuse.

If you want to set up an anonymous "Stop Violence" hotline, GREAT! Just make it don't pay people for it, that invites even more abuse than you'll get no matter what you do.

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (1)

MPCM (171133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1151981)

Into: From what I've read, there seem to be glarring security issues in this system. What, if any, are ways to provent the abuse of this system? Q: How does W.A.V.E. plan to handle the hacking, cracking, social engineering, and general abuse of this system, especially with the suggested anominity?

I'm Sparticus! (2)

Kurt Gray (935) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152003)

I'd like to turn myself in. I don't think I'm a danger to anyone, but there was this one time in high school where me and some friends took all the chairs from the cafeteria and hid them backstage in the auditorium so everyone had to eat lunch standing up, and we laughed, but I realize now it was WRONG! *sob* I WAS BAD!!! It was years ago but still, damn I SHOULDV'E BEEN A JOCK!!! I'M SORRY!!!

Can I have a t-shirt now? Large please...

Re:One VERY important question (2)

Frank Sullivan (2391) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152008)

As the parent of a very intelligent but socially standoffish child, i'm MUCH more worried about my child being falsely profiled as a danger to others.

Basic risk analysis tells us that we'll never know if such a program ever prevents a disaster. But i'd be opposed anyway, just as i'm opposed to imprisoning people because they might someday mug me. When the child acts in a dangerous manner, then by all means take action. But don't take action because the child MIGHT do something dangerous.
__
(oO)
/||\

Good question. Another one: (2)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152012)

What if a racist antisemitic crack-dealing pimp saved your kid's life?

1984 (2)

Randy Rathbun (18851) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152023)

Currently I am reading 1984. The first thought that came to my mind when reading about Pinkerton a few weeks ago was how much this sounds like the Spies in the book.

They guy that lived accross the hall from Winston was actually proud of his little girl for turning him in to the Thought Police because she overheard him talking in his sleep about "Death to Big Brother."

My question for the list: "Have you ever read Orwell's 1984, and what do you think of turning kids into real life Spies?"

Katz, please don't let him off the hook on this question if you do decide to ask it. I would love to hear a straight answer from him.

The Wave (2)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152028)

I'm suddenly reminded of a movie that I saw in a middle school history class. The plot: a teacher, wanting to demonstrate how Adolf Hitler was able to turn Germany into an anti-sematic state so easily, forms a club on his campus and invites all students to join. Slowly the club turns into a neo-nazi type organization with hatred channeled at anyone who doesn't join the club and play by their rules. Members were encouraged to report friends who didn't join or adhere to the club's rules. The club was called The Wave (which I believe was the name of the movie too, but I can't be certain). Scary stuff. Maybe the developers at Pinkerton should watch this movie before rolling out their program to see the kind of horror they could be starting with this program.

~Caliban

Aren't there laws against this sort of thing? (2)

joshamania (32599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152029)

Does anyone know if there are any laws against this sort of thing? I seem to remember companies getting in all sorts of trouble by collecting information about minors. These companies got in trouble for collecting marketing information, specifically, but I don't really see how collecting psychological profiles would be any different, if not worse.

Re:One VERY important question (2)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152031)

Given that this post is by an Anonymous Coward, I think it's pretty clear that this post is a blatant troll.

Please do not start this program (2)

revscat (35618) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152032)

As has been documented elsewhere [pbs.org] , such profiling is dubious at best and harmful at worst. Further, the dubious usefulness of anonymous tips [msnbc.com] have even been questioned by our current schizophrenic [usatoday.com] Supreme Court. Anonymous tipping in the hands of angry and powerless high-school students is simply ripe with abusive potential. No program of this kind will be able to successfully prevent school shootings, no matter how good it might make us feel to know it is in place.

- Rev.

Re:I Find it Ironic (2)

H3lldr0p (40304) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152034)

Actually I think that you might be on to more than you realize right there. Let's project the adult's reaction into a wider societial area.

Who's in charge right now? The Baby Boomers. Those 40's and 50's-somethings that grew up durring the 1960's and made such a fuss about the wars and peace and love. Essentially they made a huge mess that took a while to clean up, and in all reality the mess is still here.

However they had this experience of shaking the foundations of their oppressive society. They have a underlying, if not basic, understanding of how this happened.

And because of that they understand what to look for to keep it from happening again.

Now before somebody thinks I'm paranoid, let me say this: I don't think that all of this is planned. Nor do I think that this is something that is seen on a consious level.

If you look at how Social Scientists examine cultures, they define the "purpose" of the adolesent as being one of discontent and challenging their parent's world. In turn the parent's usually try and socialize the youths to a norm and keep them from changing too much. In the end it became a form of keeping the status quo.

And who better to keep the status quo from changing than those who changed it once.

Re:I Find it Ironic (2)

BluFinger (60149) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152048)

Damn, I wish I were moderating today so I could moderate this up. I think this really gets to the core of the issue.

We keep pushing each other farther and farther apart. It seems like people don't even really interact with each other anymore or express their feelings. I guess when you're afraid of getting sued, etc. for just about anything anymore it's pretty hard to open up to people.

Make Money Faster!!! (2)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152059)

forget that, don't wait until they piss you off, tun them ALL in for cash! It beats working at McDonald's! And then they can turn you in in return, and pretty soon everyone is rich and in counseling! And isn't that the american dream after all!!! Counseling and profit sharing!!! I love it! I wish I was a kid again.

What is there to fear? (2)

silvershadow (101700) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152067)

I address this one to the Pinkerton Corp.

Imagine, if you will for a moment:

You are a student in high school. You are a teenager going through puberty. Anger and depression are par for the course in this stage of your life, but you deal with them well, and never have harmed anyone. You do well in classes, and participate in a school-sponsored school activity every once in a while. You have few friends, but close ones. You occaisionally have run-ins with the more "popular" or "conservative" cliques in your school, but no more than anyone else outside of those cliques. You pursue your passions with vigor and well, passion. Generally, you're content with your life as it is, and would never be a threat to anyone, despite the fact that you're not terribly social and have a tendency to think/act/believe differently than a lot of your fellow students.

One day, you are hauled into the Guidance Counselor's/Principal's/ 's office. You didn't do anything (that you know of, anyway) and wonder what is going on. This then tells you that you are to undergo psychological counseling or possibly be suspended/expelled. You still have no clue what the &#^@ is going on.

Congratulations. You've just become the victim of the "Worst-case scenario" of the WAVE project. Someone in your school decided that they didn't like you because your hair looked funny one day, and knew also that they could get cash/prizes/etc for "turning you in" as a deviant of some sort.

Now, I know what you're thinking..."yeah, that may be a worst-case scenario, but it's not likely to happen." Think about this, then: how likely is this sort of scenario to happen, as opposed to someone who is actually a threat being reported?

If that doesn't scare you silly, go to your local library, and get a book called "the Crucible". I forgot who wrote it, but if you ask the librarian, they will certainly be able to find it for you. When you have read this book, ask yourself this: how many oddballs will this project burn at the stake, and of those how many should have been burned? Should any have been at all?

There but for the grace of God... (2)

benenglish (107150) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152069)

Over and over and over again it has been pointed out that published criteria for identifying potentially violent kids select far, far more folks who are benign but different than folks with a propensity to violence. It's part of the methodology. The errors are built in.

In some cases, such as the Secret Service profiling of potential threats that recently made the news, the identified "potentials" are evaluated by highly trained, experienced personnel who can make, on the whole, reasonable judgements about how to proceed. That's not the case here. No matter how good the Pinkerton guys are (note that I didn't say "goons;" no use resurrecting past bad acts), a program like WAVE will produce so many false positives that they can't all receive the careful attention that would be required to weed out the bad referrals. It just can't happen. People aren't lines of code that can be grep'd out of the whole based on discrete, uncontovertible characteristics that identify violent tendencies.

So here's my question: How on earth do these folks think they can ensure that whoever winds up looking at these referrals does a competent job of making decisions that can, if made badly, have horrible consequences for innocent people? .And by "innocent people," I mean the folks who are wrongly fingered.

As I approach my 40th birthday and look back on my life, I breathe a sigh of relief that we didn't have things like this when I was a kid. Why? Because I know in my heart of hearts that I would have been fingered under such a program, even though I turned out just fine.

It probably wouldn't be too difficult to find a couple of thousand (or a few hundred thousand) other folks who can say the same. What do the Pinkerton folks have to say to people like me? "You were a weird kid and someone should have been spying on you?" To what purpose?

Pardon me while I go off in a blue funk and ponder how to make all this better. I may have no kids of my own, but I owe to every child my dedication to stopping the forces that would spy on them for being sad or smart or inspired or insightful or thoughtful.

The Onion's take on Geek Profiling (2)

social (117400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152071)

http://www.theonion.com/onion3532/columbine_jocks. html This is a few months old but The Onion is the only other 'news' or magazine entity besides slashdot that appears to have a problem with Geek Profiling as far as I know.

Publicity Stunt (2)

348 (124012) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152072)

Although I do see much good in the programs base direction, I do feel that is is quite misguided. Many kids will be tagged as "Suspects" mearly because of the "Opeinion" of a peer. This just isn't enough, especially as AC.

To get the program to gain the support it would need to be a usefull tool in proactive efforts to reduce violence in the schools, maybe the first step should be to remove AC from the fold.

Also I admire Pinkerton or any other company putting it's money behind something in the community they feel strongly about. However, Pinkerton really doesn't have the ":Touchy feely, warm hugs" sort of reputation and overall I'm quite leary that this is nothing more that a big publicity stunt.

Re:One VERY important question (2)

mekkab (133181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152076)

Hey good point! And waht if it enabled your child to win a prize to go to the moon? And what if the sky was green? /sarcasm

It is not as simple as saying "look at the PONTENTIAL (not *proven*) benefits!" Fine, it may have the potential to save but it puts power in the hands of your childs peers, which is bad for two reasons. Despite the fact that some people say 'no one knows you better than your peers', in this case your peers don't even know themselves very well, so they are in no position to judge. A counsellor has not only gone through it when they were young, but also has probably analyzed it so much that they can tell when it's just something a child has to work out or if it's time to break out the emergency lithium syringe.

Secondly, competition runs rampant in high school between groups and individuals, so the 'motive' for abuse is everywhere. Also, we're talking about TEENAGERS, one of the most fickle and least trustworthy age groupings of all time!

Depression and confusion are an important part of growing up. It's hard to go through, but it is character building; there's something solidifying about "surviving" high school. I went through my phases, I was all over the map, and now I've settled into a well-balanced, emotionally stable (and devilishly handsome ;) individual... and being able to work out my depression and wierdness was just what I needed.

Now, had I been approached by "authority" figures who were operating on a hint from one of my classmates, and I was then put into some program or put on some medication, I would have harbored resentment and rage for years to come. What happens to a child in that situation? Would they get over it? Learn to hate the system and become criminals?

And when you get right down to it, I gotta give credit to Morrissey for asking "Is it wrong not to always feel glad?"
Depression happens...prozac is NOT always the answer.

Re:One VERY important question (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152077)

what if it ruined your childs life?

Here's a good question: (2)

john_many_jars (157772) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152083)

Suppose profiling worked well (better than 90% of the time) and WAVE could correctly identify all troublemakers ahead of time and given the teenage mindset of invincibility and given the fact that schools can't distribute aspirin to students (let alone psycho-therapy) and given the high recidivism rate of current public policies geared at reforming people, what real solution can a public school exact to prevent said troublemakers from wreaking havoc? Or is Gov. Jim Hunt wasting my (I pay NC taxes) money on a program to further segregate and demean already flammable youth?

Finally... (2)

z3penguin (170472) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152085)

Finally, someone out there is actually paying attention to the minors out there. Being a minor, I know how it feels. -Z3Penguin P.S First post

Accountability (3)

ThunderBucket (73081) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152102)

If the system is anonymous, then it seems that anyone could malign a minor with impunity, with almost certianty as to their safety in doing so. What mechanisms would be in place to ensure that the system does not turn into a way to earn money via libel?
(If it were to have some kind of report tracking, how would that change its effectiveness? Fewer call-ins due to bona fide retribution fears?) It seems that a monetary incentive to anonymously harm someone is begging to be abused.

Questions for the Pinkerton Corp. (3)

raibeart (78133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152103)

How can they garuntee that this 800 number will not turn into a "I don't like that person, I'll just turn em in as depressed."

Make Money Fast (3)

DuctTape (101304) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152105)

...turn in your buddies for Kwik Kash!!! Sounds like it would make for a good revenge tactic, too. Someone pisses you off, turn 'em in for being dangerous, and get paid to boot.

I love this country!

DT

Am I the only one... (3)

WhiskeyJack (126722) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152106)

Am I the only one who read this and wished we could pick some other ambassador than Mr. Katz? No offense -- afterall, the man's intentions are good and more or less in the right place -- but I usually find Mr. Katz a little too...strident, I guess, to picture him doing any real good in this meeting, and he often fails to grasp the realities of the situation he's discussing which could lead to misunderstandings which might in turn work against dismantling this abominable WAVE absurdity.

--WhiskeyJack

I hope... (4)

zztzed (279) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152110)

I hope this has a favorable outcome... but for the love of <deity>, Jon, PLEASE DON'T USE THE TERM "GEEK PROFILING" WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO THEM.

--

Blown away... (4)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152112)

I'm sitting here at my workstation with my jaw somewhere just above my shoelaces, hoping that maybe all of the comments posted by members of the /. community might have actually made a difference before a corporation does something that ends up being anti-freedom instead of after. My thought is that Pinkerton deserves at least one kudo for listening, and a whole lot more if they follow through with effective changes and/or dismantling parts of the program altogether.

That said, here's my list of thoughts, then a list of questions.

Thoughts:
  1. Offering a T-Shirt to a young person isn't necessarily bad --but not as an incentive to "turn someone in". If I were a student, I'd much rather get a T-Shirt for participating in a program in which I learned how to reach out to a a depressed or disaffected person, rather than rat-finking on somebody I didn't even really understand.
  2. An anonymous toll free number is good. Now then, make it a hotline where a depressed student can call and get anonymous help, and it might actually be a force for good, instead of for reporting differences.
Questions:
  1. The company says it is also already revamping its vague criteria for identifying disturbed or dangerous kids, using specific symptoms recommended by psychiatric organizations.

    Great, now we've got untrained, immature students trying to perform complex psychological evaluations on each other. How does Pinkerton propose to overcome this immaturity and lack of training in students?

  2. Wouldn't a more effective use of web resources be to create sites that offer training in communication techniques, web places where a student can anonymously ask for help?
  3. It suggests the worst kind of Geek Profiling, in the process wantonly violating constitutional protections against unwarranted intrusions, search and seizure.

    How does Pinkerton propose to implement WAVE without violating these constitutional rights?

  4. Under what criteria would an individual be added to a company database, and how long would they remain in the records?
  5. Would records be made available to law enforcement agencies without a search warrant?
  6. Finally, what guarantees are there in place that any information in these databases can never be exposed to outside parties?
Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for safe schools, etc. But students reporting on each other is the wrong use of resources. I'm all for a WAVE program that teaches inclusion, not reporting of exclusions.

The "warning signs"... (4)

Rantage (96467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152113)

Are listed here [waveamerica.com] . I was amused to note the duplication of "Has unlawful possession and use of firearms.". I guess that's thrown in there twice for the kids with poor reading comprehension. :)

More disturbing was "Conveys violence in writings and/or drawings." Lot of room there. I guess kids shouldn't draw battles or scenes from their favorite movies; God knows what will be reported about them.

While still capable of being misinterpreted, I think the Imminent Warning Signs [waveamerica.com] they list are a bit more on-target.

Totally worthless, IMHO, is the Why Call The WAVE Line [waveamerica.com] page and it's purpose. It urges newly-hatched WAVE drones to call the line if they wish to anonymously report drug/alcohol abuse, vandalism and suicide threats -- valid cases I suppose -- along with aggressive behavior, harassment, intolerant attitudes and "Anything Else Harmful to You or Your School".

Gee, could I call the WAVE line to report that WAVE is harmful to me and my school?

Any of you high-school gratuates out there remember not experiencing some kind of agressive behavior, harassment or intolerant atttudes during those years?

I'm so damn glad my school days are long past; high school was stressful enough without worrying about the Stasi looking over my shoulder every minute.
Online gaming for motivated, sportsmanlike players: www.steelmaelstrom.org [steelmaelstrom.org] .

My biggest fear about WAVE: a tool for bullying (5)

davew (820) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152114)

Jon,

I'd really appreciate if you could ask the WAVE people how they plan to deal with its potential as a tool for bullying.

WAVE strikes me as an easy, anonymous and rewarding ($$$, t-shirts) way to cause instant grief to a fellow pupil. Kids who are willing to break a kid's bicycle lights, ostracise her in the yard, or embarrass them in the classroom on a permanent basis, will have no qualms about abusing this company's tool to get anyone quiet or different into trouble.

Now what I suspect is that, further to the above, the company's mechanisms will not be sufficient to catch such abuse.

Remember Independence Day? Remember the drunkard pilot who dusted the wrong field? Remember the TV interview with his "friends" who said, "Nice guy. Harmless guy. But the aliens abused him. Sexually."

Picture this now: an anonymous tip is received, "this guy's trouble". The class is identified. Now I don't know what WAVE's procedures are, but I reckon they're not going to just use a single anonymous tip-off before hauling in the kid, right? Surely they'll interview other kids first to make sure it's not just a grudge thing?

In a class of thirty, you will get twenty-four people who say "Dunno. He's quiet all the time. Noone seems to like him." and five who, for the laugh, will make up half-truths for the interviewer to make the kid seem as disturbed as possible.

Interviewer files his report, which is processed and added to the statistics database that will be presented to customers at the end of the year saying "we dealt with 100,000 potentially distressed students this year".

It's easy to see the individual elements of WAVE as pretty harmless in themselves. But taken together:

  • Profit-making institution
  • Anonymous reporting
  • Rewards of cash and clothing
  • Profit-making institution (this is what bothers me most, can you guess?)

...they'd seem to be the ingredients for a positive-feedback abuse loop. How can the WAVE people ensure that that never happens, please?

Dave

--

I have a report (5)

VAXGeek (3443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152115)

I'd like to turn in some of the kids from my school's computer club. They are always talking about "eunuchs". They walk around saying such things as 'awk' and 'grep'. They show signs of alcoholism by saying such things as "free as in beer", and appear to worship some kind of daemon. If this isn't malicious, anti-social behavior, I don't know what is.
------------
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Question from a european point of view (5)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152116)

I second Signail11's question. I have another question: do you realize that in Europe a plan such as yours would raise much concern, so much as to throw hundreds of thousands of protesters in the street? Do you realize that anonymously denouncing people has been only used by the harshest dictatorships in this century? Do KGB, Stasi, Gestapo and Sekuritat ring a bell to you? Ever heard of the concept of yellow star?

As for the marketing angle to your website (and as I understand it, whole program). Do you know that Europeans would never let their kids be exposed to the kind of advertising that's widely used in american schools? Maybe here again that's a reminiscence of dictatorships: I believe the nazis pioneered the use of propaganda towards children.

Having drawn those parallels, do you share my (our) concerns? If you do, and I hope you do, how come you did'nt think of it before?

KISS (5)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152117)

I'll keep it short and sweet - my middle and high school years were a testament to how bad things can go wrong in public education.

The root cause of this is remarkably simple: standardized education hits the middle of the bell-curve and ignores, or is actively hostile to, any more than a standard deviation or so out. That is to say public education satisfies it's demands for about 69-78% of the population. For the rest, however, it's living hell.

Many kids who go through this become depressed, suicidal, despondent, their grades falter, peer relationships become unstable or non-existant.. all the symptoms of a person under high stress. What you are proposing to do will not help these children. All the program will do is associate yet another label to a problem nobody wants to address.

This background was necessary to give you a framework in which to see where I'm coming from with my question. My question is, why are you punishing these kids for being different?

I Find it Ironic (5)

chromatic (9471) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152119)


I find it ironic that there are so many young people who are confused and hurting, who really need just one or two good adult role models to sit down with them and listen to them for a while...

... and those adults will hear some painful and confused feelings of isolation and loneliness and despair...

... and brand these kids as possible menaces to society.

When I was a teenager, I didn't want people to listen to me because they might be afraid of what I might do. I wanted people to listen to me because they cared about me and could identify with the way I was feeling and the thoughts I was thinking.

Don't alienate young people even further in the guise of helping them. Please.

--

Oh boy... (5)

spankenstein (35130) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152122)

Is this what people think is actually the solution? I am amazed by america everyday.

Can kids not go to their parents anymore? I came from a severly broken home, but I could almost always go to one of my parents with a problem. I have a 10 month old daughter. I hope that she can come to me when she is older.

Personally I don't see kids getting worse, on the contrary I see less violence than when I was in High School 3 years ago. My younger siste is a junior and has had progressivley less problems and talks about progressively fewer fights every year.

I think the major problem that we are facing is completely irresposible media. Sure, Columbine was news worthy, but it was NOT a commentary on America's youth. It's not a commentary on the Internet, it's not a commentary on Games.

I know many people that spend hours per day on the net, play quake, listen to heavy music and wear dark clothing that are as happy as humanly possible. They are just enjoying life. At work we played a Q3A deathmatch last night. I didn't go kill anyone, i didn't even harm animals as I ate my vegetarian dinner. So i listened to some punk rock and went to sleep.

This morning I woke up and was at my job at 7:30 a.m., about an hour and a half early. I didn't kill anyone. I have no real anger in my body right now and I've been on the net all morning.

In high school i would have been a prime target for this. I was a depressed, insomniac, geek/musician that had multi-colored hair in multiple spiky arrangements and a skateboard and a really bad attitude about life. I never went over the edge. But being persecuted like this could have easily pushed the wrong buttons.

OK...questions (5)

gonzocanuck (44989) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152123)

1.Why is the website privacy policy so lax? Nabisco's Candystand has more rules than this! It would never fly with Truste (not that *that's* saying much)


2.Why not offer a help line for depressed kids rather than a snitch line? Canada has had the Kids' Help Phone for about 10 years now and it is wildly popular and successful, as well as ANONYMOUS


3.Rewarding kids is nothing new, but doesn't WAVE take corporate sponsorship to a new level? It's bad enough that there is so much advertising in schools, and I feel kids today are just being groomed to consume and consume since they day they're able to point "I want that".


4.One of my favourite authors once wrote about the indecency of being made to pee in a bottle "with the results potentially ruining your life forever" or something to that effect...is WAVE more interested in ruining lives or actually helping them?

Checks and balances (5)

spiralx (97066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152129)

I was wondering what kind of checks and balances you would be applying to this system? Surely you must have considered the issues behind this beforehand and must have some kind of idea about how to separate the potentially dangerous from the depressed or prank victim. Given that the point of this is that fellow students are in a better position to notice behavioural problems, how do you as outsiders determine the validity of an anonymous call?

Given that Americans pride themselves on the various checks and balances inherent in the Constitution, I am curious to know how this system will be balanced. I believe that the underlying idea has some merit - after all fellow students are the most likely to notice problems at an age where parents generally aren't confided in - but in its current incarnation it seems it will simply lead to a deluge of pranks, hoaxes and wrong diagnoses. The flood of names supplied to WAVE may seem to validate its purpose, but in reality what is the use of this system in every teenager in America is on their lists?

Turn em' in (5)

SnugBoy (147765) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152130)

How about offering teens some money to turn in jocks/popular kids that harras the kids that do not fit the "social norm". I would say that occurances of these rulling class students beating on/harrasing others BY FAR outwieghs the few random times that so called outcasts are pushed to the point of violence. If anything should be done, the people who are at the core of all this (the bullies) should be screened and not the victims

Re:Am I the only one... (5)

Hotaine (148044) | more than 14 years ago | (#1152131)

Shhhhh! He only THINKS he's going there for a meeting. I actually called and turned him in. Got this nifty baseball cap...
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