Training Children

A school has installed CCTV cameras in classrooms in a bid to avoid disputes between teachers and pupils and to tackle theft, the deputy head has said.

Mr Rush said that the reaction from staff, children and parents had been entirely supportive.

“The children are very happy here because they know they are on a school site where they are safe.

And this is the problem, that children 'feel safe' because they are under the watchful eye of a CCTV camera. They are being trained to believe that.

Likewise they are being trained that it is only right that your fingerprints can be taken so that you can borrow books from a library, that carrying ID cards is the norm and that you should feel safe now that you are put on a database as soon as you are born.

State control of your data is increasing and they people concerned have realised that 'getting them while they are young' seems to be the easiest way to slip these databases and surveillance systems in to place.

Seriously, look at the responses to the library fingerprints link – shouldn't we be concerned that we are creating children who will accept anything for the sake of 'safety'?

The question therefore is what can we do to educate children about the flaws in such systems?

My immediate thought is to make Orwell's '1984' and Doctorow's 'Little Brother' compulsory English texts. But what else? Perhaps ORG/FIPR/No2ID should start setting out their stalls at school fetes, and town shows, or start making child friendly websites?

But what else can we do?

I'm open for suggestions.

(And the first person to say that 'if you've nothing to hide then you've nothing to fear' will have their net curtains removed, their walls replaced with glass and be made to sign a declaration stating that they trust this, and all other future governments, as well as every soul that works for the civil service, the NHS, social services, transport your local council etc…)

24 thoughts on “Training Children”

  1. Yes! It drives me round the bend when I hear people say “I caught by a speed trap camera!! Why aren't the police out catching REAL criminals, instead of punishing law-abiding family people?!?!?!”Well…. you did break the law. *sigh*

    Not that I think of myself as decent and law-abiding, sometimes I do 80 on the motorway, I bought alcohol for my little brother when I was 18 and he was 16 (I bought alcohol for myself with a fake ID when I was 16!), and when my internet goes down I will use the local unsecure wifi to check my email.

    Indeed, we ALL have something to hide.

  2. I agree. I recently came across the word 'sousveillance', and think it's fantastic. Observation from beneath… we need to watch them.I find it interesting how places that have a lot of security and cameras of their own seem to be the places that least like the public to use recording equipment.

  3. A few years back, when I was in school, there was talk of schools in my area introducing compulsory random drug testing. My brother's school was all for it. My school held a debate, in which I was speaker for the upper school. Thankfully the staff agreed that it was a gross violation of privacy, completely unneccessary (How many teenagers smoke a little pot, grow out of it, and carry on completely unharmed? Why criminalise them and likely make the progress of their lives much worse?), and not the job of teachers in the first place.But it shocked me as a teenager, that many of my fellow students, especially the younger ones (age 11-15, when I was 16/17), were supporting the idea on the basis that everything would be 'safer', as well as the 'nothing to hide' arguement.

    It astounded me that they could be so close-minded to the potential misuse of supposedly 'random' testing (and misuse of results, if a straight A student came back positive would senior staff want to have that negative influence on the school records?), that they weren't offended by the assumed criminality places upon them by such testing, that they didn't even know their rights to deny being touched (my advice was that if a student was asked to take a drug test, to tell the teacher asking that they did not consent, that they did not want to be touched and would consider such testing against their consent to be assault, and that the teacher should consult their union).

    It does worry me. And in my school we did read Animal Farm… a lot of people thought it was just a story about animals. This was not in a 'rough' or 'poor performing' school, but a grammar school supposedly taking in the top 20% of the area (I disagree with the grammar system, but that's another story!).

  4. I agree with you on this one. The constant infringemnt upon our privacy, our rights and our freedoms by the Government is something we all should be fighting.I've been thinking for sometime about setting up a child friendly website on the issue of rights and freedoms in the UK (why they are important and the dangers of them being infringed upon), but sadly do not have the skills to make a website that would be attractive to Younger people or be easy enough to navigate.

  5. I can see why teachers and children will be happy for the CCTV. It's for the absence of any doubt.Teachers like it because, if they're accused of improper behaviour towards a child then it's a simple case of referring to the CCTV instead of going through a suspension and months of uncertainty. I saw a report which said “mud sticks” when teacher are accused of such things. Even when they're cleared the accusation can end their career.

    Similarly, teachers can make kids lives hell when something's been “stolen” from their desks.

    A lack of common sense and people taking responsibilty for their actions has led to this.

  6. Everyone has something to hide… Is it that time they drove down a 30 limit road at 32? That's illegal you know.. Is it that library book they borrowed 5 years ago and forgot to give back? Perhaps it's that youthful time they spent cutting holes in the fence at Greenham Common?I know I have stuff in my life that I'd like to keep private, everyone does. And personally, I believe that the next person who says to me that insane phrase about law abiding people having nothing to hide, I'll be asking them for proof of their commitment to this ideal, and the URL to get to their personal information. Well, if they have nothing to hide… they won't be afraid to share it… will they?

  7. I can understand why you'd want to have some sort of accountability, especially around children. However, as may be proof in many American ambulance companies, cameras can be used as weapons. The “Drive-Cams” are installed at the rear-view mirror and are triggered automatically in the incident of a collision. They record 30 seconds before and 30 seconds after an event. They view ahead and behind, in the main cab and out the front. These Cameras can be triggered automatically. They COULD be used to keep people accountable for poor actions, but they could also be used to keep you from any winging… which I feel is necessary. You gotta be allowed to give off a little steam now and then without the threat of your jobsworth partner punching the button every time you say something unbecoming about your boss/manager/supervisor.I personally feel a little naked with cameras around. As the arguement with Guns goes, if you don't have them, they won't be used. Which means if you've got a gun, they'll have a gun and if guns are pulled, guns will be used. Same with Cameras. If they are there because people are shifty nearby, people will know that they're expected to be shifty and will act shifty. I have nothing to hide. I feel that if you put more effort into making a truely trustworthy society, putting efforts into creating equality and giving people their true freedom, you will have fewer problems with shiftiness.

    Personally, I was homeschooled. As for our children, I feel VERY strongly that a childs education should not end as they exit their school doors. I feel that a parent, as the leader and example of their children, should make the time to teach their kids, even if only partially, a day a week or so. The best part of this is that you can see what your kids dreams, hopes, desires and interests are. you can help them improve these things in themselves. say your kid is into airplanes or space or swimming or dancing or racecars, you can take them to places where these things are showcased. You can take them to visit the airplane mechanics and pilots. Give them little goals for their visits. Find the short courses that require an adult for children under 18 and take them to it….

    All this to say, Parents need to have a bigger hand in their kids lives. Take them away from the cameras and crowds. Teach outdoor survival techniques. Build an “off-the-grid” mindset that keeps kids on a community oriented path and away from large controlled governments.

  8. [sarcasm]If you want to profile who has been borrowing subversive or “terroristic” literature, you need a reliable way of identifying the borrower. Library cards are not reliable: they can be lost, shared, swapped, stolen. To protect is from the evil terrorists, we should abolish library cards and replace them with biometrics.


  9. There is another angle here. As well as teaching people that they are only safe when being watched by CCTV, they are also learning that a crime isn't a crime if you aren't caught. Look at the numbers of people who claim to be law abiding but drive faster when they don't think there is a speed camera watching. Or who take the attitude that they can go where they like as long as they can physically overcome any barrier, such as those at level crossings.We are breeding out people's ability to take responsibility for thier own actions and actually use some self control.

  10. when we no longer take responsibility for our own actions, its a dangerous time. There needs to be massive attitude changes to move away from the 21st century characteristics of the nanny state and cotton wool kids

  11. Astute observation, Tom.Your position isn't so different from that of libertarian Americans or gun rights advocates over on this side of the pond.

    We believe that certain rights are fundamental, and inalienable. They are a list of freedoms inherent to ALL mankind. Our constitution's Bill of Rights did not grant these freedoms, but instead merely codified them in law and recognized that the government may not deprive any of its citizens these rights under color of law. The rights existed before there was government.

    In that regard, we view the right to keep and bear arms to be just as fundamental as the right to free speech, or the right to privacy being infringed by the UK's proliferation of CCTV cameras, or any of our other rights.

    First they teach our children that cameras make us safe. Or they teach that some guns are bad and their ownership restricted. And when those things are proven to be the lies they are, they ban yet more guns, or they install yet more cameras, and they can do so easily now because they've conditioned a generation of children to believe it works.

    That's how it starts. No one complains at first because it's someone else's privacy being violated, or someone else's possessions being outlawed. The changes are incremental, and the government hopes that we will remain complacent as the restrictions become ever more intrusive.

    Pretty soon, the citizens have no expectation of privacy, and no viable means of self-defense. The government controls us fully. And we let it happen to ourselves, by not resisting back when resistance would have mattered.

    The analogy we use here is boiling a frog. Throw a frog in boiling water, and he'll jump out with barely a burn or blister.

    But put him in lukewarm water, and gradually raise the temperature, and he'll happily swim around, thinking he's safe…

    … until he's cooked.

  12. We were required to read 1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies. But the issues they dealt with were remote, and the books themselves boring and poorly written by today's standards.Personally, I'm not fussed by privately owned security cameras. I LOVE them… in the hands of the public.

    I'd rather that everyone be allowed to carry cameras and record anything they wish, and be allowed to place cameras anywhere on their property, than that cameras be restrained. Cameras are our current best weapon against authority. This is why the “don't photograph police” law is deeply bad.

    The cameras I do object to are networked cameras in the hands of authority, with face and numberplate recognition to get more information than “this is who threw the brick through the window”.

    In time, however, even private citizens will be able to dust an entire country in intelligent microcameras (or more likely, the country will be dusted once, with open-access microcameras that anyone can query). Then anyone has that power to track, locate, identify and monitor other people. That will truly level the playing field, but will require a rethink of what privacy even means.

  13. Tom, I'm in so much agreement with you over the fingerprint issue, but less so on CCTV in schools.Until I started working at a school a few months ago, I'd have wholeheartedly agreed. Now I see the point of CCTV. Not only does it allow teachers and other staff (e.g. me) some kind of defence against malicious allegations, it helps prevent some crimes. It helps detection in others.

    Crimes? In a school? Well, if they happened on the street, they would be seen as crimes.

    I don't get to see all the reports of violence to staff (even though I should). However, I'm convinced that there would be many more if not for the CCTV – not, you understand, that the cameras deter anyone. They do provide evidence that the “little darling” DID hit/push/barge the staff member. Appropriate action may then be taken.

    When I was at school they weren't necessary, as the teacher would always be believed. That's now different. Proof is required, as kiids and parents know their rights (but not responsibilities).

    The school I'm at is in a deprived inner-city area. Regrettably there is a higher proportion of parents who don't do parenting than in the average school. The result is that there are more unsocialised kids.

    We need CCTV in our armoury – there's precious little else left.

  14. MarkUk, I know what you're saying but there must be more creative and practical solutions than allowing us all to sleep walk into a surveillance society, lulled into the false sense of security that this provides.I work with high risk offenders, some of whom are undoubtedly (and almost inevitably) the result of ''parents who don't do parenting'' -your ''unsocialised kids'', all grown up. Just containing and monitoring (school kids or offenders) is only ever going to be a short-term solution. In the long term we need to support and enable people to parent better or else these ''unsocialised kids'' are going to be bringing their own kids into the world. And the beat goes on…

  15. It is very much easier to operate a despotic govenment it the people it governs don't trust one another and are too isolated by that fear to combine to overthrow it. That trick worked all over the Soviet Union for eighty years.Set parent against child and student against teacher and colleage against colleague….

  16. Can't but agree with your main points Cheesy. Unfortunately we have to deal with the here and now.I sincerely hope that someone gets a grip on these parents so that we don't have more kids going down the same route. However, a school can't undo the damage that's already been done – or at least, not at once. I hope that in future we can again breed kids who will take “no” for an answer.

    In the meantime, my first aiders (I lead first aid) when asked what they'd like training in over the next year came up with “dealing with knife and gunshot wounds”.

    I think the latter is a little pessimistic but I'm just witing for our first stabbing.

  17. Why do libertarians always jump to the gun debate and throw it in with everything else ? It is SO not applicable in this case.To follow your logical argument, it's OK for Iran to have ICBMs ?

  18. I too share Tom's misgivings about the Orwellian nature , and policies of this government. It is insidious, and is strangling any pretence of freedom, however, I suspect it is in some measure a snap-shot of our present society.We have become a very litigation orientated country, happy to run to the nearest ambulance chaser with a vexatious cause. To cap it all, the chances are the suit will be taken on as a contingency (no win, no fee). Thus we are lead to believe, the cameras are there to protect us, and indeed, teachers and teaching assistants are fair prey for the quick quid brigade, regardless of the terminal damage done to careers, and reputations.

    I think we have become the architects of our own demise.

    Where's room 101?

  19. The other point is that gun ownership is NOT a right. The bill of rights states that American citizens have “the right to bear arms, as part of an organized militia”.All it means is that the citizens are allowed to arm themselves, in the defense of their state and country. This does not allow for private gun ownership. By the bill of rights there should be a central arsenal that members of the militia go to, not guns in members homes.

    The NRA regularly state the first part of the right, but forget about the second part, as it doesn't fit into what they want.

  20. The United States Supreme Court says otherwise, ruling that the framers of our constitution meant for individuals to keep and bear arms, as part of the unorganized militia, which in those days, was the the citizenry.But that's neither here nor there. I wasn't attempting to hijack Tom's comment thread to foist my political views on people who have little understanding of American laws or gun culture.

    My intent was merely to point out the dangers of incrementalism in restricting human rights. Stand up now, or you may well find a time when you won't be able to.

  21. I am with you, Tom. I loathe all this talk about ID and the further erosion of liberties. Our ancestors fought hard in varying forms of campaigns to give us the best democracy along with many rights that we now take for granted – and proabaly shouldn't.I'm guessing you may be a fan of Mark Tomas? i don't agree with 100% of his beliefs but do believe in the majority and the intelligent way he expresses his knowledge .He was involved in the photographing of new scotland yard back in feb. and he is opposed to ID cards and many other things that point to the erosion of liberties, society, civility etc.I have nowt to hide like a good many other people in this fair land but i do not wish to be watched. There's a kind of perversion in that, isn't there? ;0)But for sheer devilment without malicious intent should we not be able to book in to a hotel anywhere in the UK under a pseudonym? why? because we can and for no other reason.Cry Freedom good people 🙂

  22. I agree that this is going too far. A couple of years ago, CCTV cameras were installed at my school, and after the initial novelty of waving to the camera began to wear off, the other children said they felt safe. I should point out that, while not a rampant troublemaker, when I lose my temper, I do it quietly, rarely, and with disastrous consequences that I sometimes regret later. So I felt watched. Like you, I instinctively avoid authority, as if they don't know I exist, they can't pin in on me.I know it's supposed to be for our protection, but I freaked out a bit when they asked to database our fingerprints to take out books in the JUNIOR SCHOOL library. I refused. I also was the only person in my year not to take part in a biology challenge thing online, as it wanted my address and date of birth.

    I don't know about my friends, but I think there is a good reason why private details are so called.

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