In an effort to monitor student activity, officials at the King Ecgbert School in Sheffield have decided to install security cameras in every bathroom on-campus, according to the Associated Press. Although this may sound extreme, apparently they’re not alone; over 200 other institutions have employed the use of cameras in school bathrooms. And while officials believe this is necessary to keep an eye on troublesome students, watchdog groups believe this is an invasion of privacy.
Lesley Bowes, principal at King Ecgbert, insists that these cameras are only there to help protect the children. In fact, she takes offense to those who believe that the school is attempting to spy on kids while they’re using the facilities. According to Bowes, the cameras aren’t positioned close to the toilets themselves.
Wildern School principal M.L. Litton also defended the use of the security system. “The cameras for the toilets are strategically placed in the doorways and directed toward the washbasins to identify any students if there are any reported incidents in these areas,” he explained to 7 Days. He added that the footage isn’t looked at unless something does down inside the restroom.
However, not everyone feels as positively about the cameras as Bowes and Litton. Nick Pickles, the head of Big Brother Watch, explained that parents will be more than a little shocked by the findings in his latest report.
“Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage,” Pickles said.
Jess Hogg, a graduate of King Ecgbert, had mixed feelings about the cameras. “Everyone knew about the cameras in the bathroom,” he said. “Personally it made me feel a little uncomfortable, but then safe at the same time. Uncomfortable because I didn’t know where they were in the bathroom … safe just in case (there) was any trouble in school.”
The Huffington Post reports that 207 schools have cameras installed in student bathrooms. Pickles explained that this number could be much higher, as some schools failed to respond to his inquiry before the deadline.