Friday, July 24, 2009

CCTV cameras in school lavatories

There has been a row this week over the decision of a school in Norwich to install CCTV cameras to monitor the sink area in the lavatories.

The Times reported that:
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights organisation Liberty, said that the measure would serve only to prepare children for a lifetime of intrusive surveillance.
I reported similar concerns in 2007 over a school that was taking children's fingerprints. The headmaster defended the practice on the grounds that it was "preparing pupils for a world in which terrorism was rife, and their privacy would be further invaded".

The defence offered by the head in Norwich is equally striking. Len Holman, the head of Angel Road Junior School, said that pupils had requested the cameras.

At one time the fact that an idea had been put forward by children would have been a reason for adults to reconsider it. Now it is taken as a knock-down argument in its favour. Odd.


Stephen Bigger said...

Not odd when you understand that school toilets are a site of major bullying. I know of children who would not go to the toilet in school time and caused themselves pain and damage. I can understand children wanting to eliminate hidden corners when faced with violent and sadistic fellow school children.

Anonymous said...

Even taking into consideration the children's immaturity and the possibility that some of them are merely larking about, I'd still rather encourage them to speak for themselves than let them be represented by La Chakrabarti, whom they don't know and didn't vote for.
Then again, nobody ever has voted for her, and the organisation she represents has only a few thousand members (at most). Questionably liberal, certainly not democratic, but mysteriously well-connected.

Jonathan Calder said...

Hello Stephen

My point is that treating children's views as a conclusive argument is remarkably odd when you consider the rest of human history.

However much you approve of this, you have to admit it constitutes a remarkable break with the past.

And is CCTV the only possible means of supervision anyway?

Stephen Bigger said...

Hi Jonathan, I am not an advocate of CCTV as a cure of all ills. But listening to children's serious opinions is much higher up the educational agenda than it used to be. Some children can be malicious and make false accusations, so this is no easy task.
On supervision of toilets in school, I have done my ten year stint as a secondary school teacher. Nowadays I would be a bit more worried of being accused of molestation. And I hope you are not suggesting sitting a teacher in the toilets for 8 hours a day?? Because occasional visits are no good. Of course, changing bullying behaviour is essential but how do you do that?

Anonymous said...

The Vale of Catmose School here in Oakham has had a CCTV camera in it toilet for a long time. it is shared by the Catmose Gallery one opf the strangest toilets I have seen all the cubicals run down one wall the caretakers office is ro the left and hand washing is in the middle and the whole area is a corridor

Anonymous said...

i forgot to point out in the photgraph the CCTV camera is up in the top left hand window.

Council run community theatre in Stamford also has CCTv in its toilets.

the only other place I have seen CCtV is in London public toilets they often have a nonitor so you can wave!