IS there anywhere they won’t put cameras these days? A secondary school in Durham is even installing CCTV in kids’ toilets.
Parents have gone ballistic and, with my children going back to school this week, at first I was right behind them.
I’d hit the roof at my girls and boys having someone monitor the moments they should have to themselves.
But the detail in this particular case – at Framwellgate School, Durham, has slowly shifted my opinion.
Headteacher Andy Byers says the move is to prevent bullying and vandalism.
Too many schools claim to “take bullying very seriously”, yet completely underestimate the scale of the problem and where it is going on. For all their good intentions, sometimes there just isn’t enough staff to witness what’s happening.
Any child aware that their actions could be captured on camera would think twice about using the toilets to terrorise fellow pupils.
With Framwellgate’s cameras focused outside the cubicles, they appear unlikely to breach anyone’s privacy.
And if a bully followed a kid into a cubicle, his or her movements could be tracked. The loos are also a sanctuary for kids feeling a bit low to gather their thoughts. Think about the times a situation that might otherwise escalate could be caught early.
Of course CCTV in schools isn’t ideal. We are one of the most watched countries in the world. That surveillance shouldn’t be starting with our kids.
But parents want transparency. Millions of us are sending our kids back to school this week anxious about just how they’ll get through the day.
At schools where the bullying continues under the radar, parents will be worried sick at having no option but to send their little ones back into their nightmare. Anything to prevent that is surely welcome.
Of course, the safeguards are essential. But I’d even agree with Mr Byers’ explanation relating to vandalism.
The loos at my school were filthy and used for smoking with the teachers unwilling to venture in.
The obvious response would be to hammer the school, demanding they backtrack. The sensible thing would be to back them.