Four pupils have been excluded from a school for protesting against new surveillance cameras inside unisex bathrooms, furious parents claim.
The kids are said to have protested against the gadgets at Bucklers Mead Academy in Yeovil, Somerset.
But the school says the new CCTV cameras were fitted after recent vandalism in the loos and stressed they don’t point into the private cubicles.
Vandalism. The unspeakable horror. Was there — I hesitate to even ask — graffiti?
There’s passing mention of “fights” later, but I’m guessing that the “fights,” assuming there were any, were of the 11-year-olds-shoving-each-other variety, and nothing serious enough to cause rational adults to even consider putting cameras in the goddamned bathrooms.
The school, rated as Good in it last full Ofsted inspection, denied it has compromised the privacy of the children.
Of course they did. And of course they expect local parents to be reassured by a “full inspection” by another government agency; I’ll just dismiss it as irrelevant, instead of starting here or here or here and falling down the research rabbit hole of school quality measurement and whether or not Ofsted does so satisfactorily. Instead I’ll go back to that denial, because it’s a fine example of hair-splitting:
Sara Gorrod, headteacher, said: “We are aware that there has been some social media discussion suggesting we have CCTV which films inside the toilet cubicles.
“This is NOT the case – there are cameras in the communal places outside the cubicles in some areas of the academy.
“This is due to the fact these areas have been used inappropriately by some students in the past.
“The damage they have caused is unacceptable.
“In order for the academy to react responsibly to this it has been necessary to heighten our surveillance in key areas.
“In absolutely no way is the privacy of students being compromised, as that would be totally and utterly inappropriate.”
Not in the toilet cubicles. I see. Just in the “communal” part of the bathrooms, where you might see 11-year-olds with their pants down but won’t actually see them shitting. That’s where we’re supposed to draw the line, is it?
One of the suspended students’ parents would draw that line elsewhere:
“I don’t mind anybody putting a camera outside the toilets or in the foyer of the toilets, but cameras actually in the toilets is unacceptable.”
Of course, once you’ve conceded the issue of saturation surveillance — as Britain has — this is the only kind of argument you can have about it.
Give it a few years, and the line will have moved again. Instead of “we don’t have cameras inside the toilet cubicles,” it’ll be “CCTV footage from inside the stalls is only reviewed if an incident is reported,” or if the technology improves enough, “the cameras in the stalls are monitored by an algorithm.” Outraged parents will be assured that there isn’t any surveillance equipment in the toilet bowls, so if the kids have something to cover their laps with, they might have some token amount of “privacy” left, even though someone in the bowels of government will already have floated the idea that they’re passing up a chance to closely monitor preteens’ bodily health….
P.S. The featured image is from a story out of Mechanicsville, Virginia, if you’re looking for another sighting of bathroom surveillance cameras in the wild. The guy in Virginia had the same motive (anti-vandalism) and the same story about how he’s still totally respecting people’s privacy (the camera’s allegedly angled so it can’t see into the stalls, though in this case you can’t tell by looking at the thing). He didn’t express himself as slickly as Ms. Gorrod did above, though, and he was a mere private business owner, not a government functionary, so it didn’t end well for him.
I like his lie about why he didn’t put a camera in the women’s bathroom (from here), too. Sure, it’s just because women don’t do as much vandalism, and not because, according to his own loudly expressed God-and-guns ethos, he’d deserve to be beaten to death.
And in case you think I’m being unfair to the educrats in Yeovil by using that image, it’s only slightly more provocative than the Getty Images bullshots that the Mirror used in their story.
P.P.S. Yes, this story is a bit old. I’m slowly cleaning out my backlog of Twitter likes, and this might not be the only month-old story I react to.