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Parents Angry Over CCTV In School Toilets

Outraged parents have hit out at a school in Birmingham after pupils discovered CCTV cameras in the school's toilets.

Youngsters at Grace Academy in Chelmsley Wood claim they returned from half-term to find staff had installed the cameras without notifying them or their parents.

Some parents are furious at what they say is a "total invasion of privacy" and claim some pupils are so anxious about being watched they are refusing to use the facilities.

One mother whose teenage daughter attends the school is concerned the footage could fall into the wrong hands.

She told the Sunday Mercury: "She came home from school and told me security cameras had been installed in the girl's toilets but we didn't know anything about it.

"You would expect the school to have consulted parents first yet we received no information and no letters have been sent home explaining this decision."

Grace Academy claims the cameras only cover the sink areas and have not yet been activated.

School principal Terry Wales told Sky News: "It's to safeguard our youngsters, many schools are using cameras now.

"We had a parents' forum last night, we explained the arrangements and the parents were satisfied.

"We've found that when it comes to health and safety, children want to feel secure."

But privacy campaigners warned about the psychological effects of the feeling of being watched, even if cameras are not switched on.

Dylan Sharpe from Big Brother Watch told Sky News: "Children are entitled to privacy like anyone else.

"We're raising a generation of children accustomed to being constantly watched and monitored, whether cameras are switched on or not."

Grace Academy already has 26 CCTV cameras watching other parts of the school.

The incident is the latest row to erupt between schools and parents who are concerned about safeguarding their children's privacy.

Last year police were called to a school in Salford after parents were horrified to discover children had been filmed changing into their PE kit.

Although the footage was not misused, police seized the film after negotiating with the school.

In 2007 it was revealed schools had fingerprinted thousands of primary school children without their parent's consent.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families later ruled that if schools want to obtain and store biometric data from children, consent is not required from parents.

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on March 28, 2010 @ 5:44 PM

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