Should there be Video Cameras in School Toilets?

Note: This is not one of my most sparkling performances. I was got out of bed by the BBC to argue against a proposal so bizarrely evil that I was almost lost for words. SIG

Sean Gabb, speaking on BBC Radio 5 on the 11th September 2012.

Sean was got out of bed and wheeled on unprepared to debate with Claude Knights of a charity called Kidscape, which is calling for omnipresent CCTV surveillance in schools – including in toilets and sports changing rooms – to make sure bullying can be prevented.

He argues that this is unacceptable for the following reasons:

CCTV surveillance of law-abiding adults changes their behaviour by letting them know that they live at all times under the watchful eye of authority. Putting children under such surveillance is morally corrupting.

Some of the images captured of children will necessarily be indecent. These will, just as inevitably, be passed round by people of a certain inclination. It is not uncommon for state-registered childminders to be found guilty of possessing and publishing such images – see here, for example.

Further worth noting:

Kidscape is a registered charity which had an income of £523,625 in the year to 31st March 2012, of which £112,481 came from the Department for Education. As such, Kidscape fails to qualify as a “fake charity” – this being an organisation funded by the State to lobby the State to do things the State wants to do but cannot until it has been able to show that there is “independent” support from the public. Even so, it cannot be seen entirely as part of civil society as reasonably defined.


  1. As a prefect at school (yes security work even then – I am a walking sterotype) I did “toilet patrol” (it was standard procedure at break times) I was ignorant I did not even know what I was supposed to be looking for (the Deputy Head did not tell us). Of course the main thing the school was concerned about was homosexual rape (it being an all boys school) – I never came upon that, just general violence and bullying (theft, demands for money, etc).

    I do not believe that freedom to bully is part of non aggression principle style liberty (otherwise I would be part of the “libertarian” left supporting union thugs destroying industries and so on), but that does not answer Sean Gabb’s question.

    The answer (of course) is property rights. As the anarchocapitialist Rothbard was fond of saying – “human rights are property rights”, one can be a lot more moderate politically than Rothbard was and still believe that.

    If the owner of the school wants CCTV systems then that is up to them – and if parents do not like this they should send their children to other schools (where people are free to shove their child’s hed down the toilet and so on). That is true of CCTV generally – a camera that looks into private pr

    I went to a state school (as most people do) since 1891 in England and Wales education is both compulsory and “free” – i.e people are made to pay taxes for schools that offer “free” education to undercut the voluntary efforts that used to exist for the poor.

    See E.G. West “Education And The State” – and the more recent work of Prof Tooley.

  2. I forgot to type (my word blindness hits again) “a camera that looks into private property without the consent of the owner is unacceptable”.

    Of course when one enters the property of someone else (or a church or whatever) one accepts that other people are allowed to see oneself – including people looking via a camera. Although peope should be told about that in advance – so they can make and informed choice.

  3. Most schools are “owned” by the scum of the stste so the “my property/my rules” bit does not apply.

    Under no circumstances should cameras be installed in toilets.

    If bullying is to be stopped then a number of measures will work much better.
    * Indentitfy who is doing the bullying
    *Capture audio-visual evidence (not in toilets and using non-fixed cameras just to catch individual incidents–not creating a tyrannical culture of permanent snooping).
    * Call the malefactors up during school assembly and, using a specially trained team, beat the living shit out of them.
    That will work a lot better than obscene toilet snooping followed up by no effective action anyway which is what these “Kidscape” commisar buffoons are suggesting.

  4. Fear is a great motivator, the fear of consequences for actions, a jackal trying to steal a hyena’s meal fears being caught and bitten and killed, quickly or slowly. Humans (mostly) have a sense of fear too, and if bullying leads to fearful consequences, it may well abate. If wrongful actions (bullying) have consequences (i.e. a negative price) then the supply will tend to reduce, ceteris paribus.

    So as a consequence for bullying in school, expulsion, criminal prosecution and being banned from receiving welfare (or living in State housing) for, say, 2 years, might be a starting point. Evidence does not need to be on CCTV for there to be proof beyond reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed.

    Even if bullying were on camera, most children leave school at the end of the day, and what then?

  5. Merchant Taylors boys’ school in Crosby, Liverpool, had and may still have “the Bully Bus”. This is the school bus, of afternoons, back north to Formby and Southport etc. On it, the younger and smaller – or perhaps more reflective – boys were (and may still be) bullied by the larger, sprty, outgoing extroverts.

    However, that’s merely what goes on. In my extreme youth at a well-regarded Surrey prep school near Leatherhead (I ended up doing fairly well) bullying was dealt with by our ex-Armed-Services teachers as follows:-
    You got bullied.
    You complained to a teacher, if you could summon up the balls (many could not but many did.)
    The teacher asked you to identify the bully/bullies. You then did, to screams and catcalls and mob-roars of “diddums!!”
    The teacher announced that anything you did to the bully/ies in self-defence subsequently would be allowed, short of actual hospitalisation for serious injury. In other words, go back, when it suits you, and hurt the bugger/s until he/they stops/stop. You were not allowed to destroy their property (well, not much), only their person(s).
    This by and large worked.
    I began to cease to be bullied after about a year or so, having a reputation involving fountain-pen-nibs and compass-points. Oh, and I found kicking their bollocks from behind during a chase helped a bit, as did a fisty-sideswipe to the skull, which always seemed to be very disorienting to the recipient (I couldn’t box or wrestle for toffee), and often “stopped” him, literally.

    Today’s British-State-School-EnemyClass solution of “Peer Mentors” merely serves to legitimize bullying.

    By the way, the use of cameras in school toilets is unacceptable.

  6. I said that most schools are (now) state owned – which makes the judgement a political one. Political judgements do not tend to be good ones.

    Of course power corrupts – even the pathetic amount of power that a prefect has. I remember one boy wanted to come into school at break time – and I did not like the smirk on his face. So I said I would only let him in if he told me what the American President’s middle name was -when he did not say “Wilson” he stayed out. A clear abuse of power.

    What to do with bullies out of school?

    My own method (in my younger days at school) when a gang came after me (not an uncommon thing) was to walk along in the road – in the face of oncomming traffic (which would swerve to avoid me).

    No gang ever followed me.

    It would have been better to take a gang on – but I lacked the physical abilities needed for this task.

    One example of bullying was from teachers – back in my Primary School days.

    The teachers said we should ask for food from our parents for some sort of school party – to “share with our friends”.

    However, the teachers were lying – they took the food I had been given (took by force – although my resistance was rather hopeless given the difference in our sizes) and gave it to my enemies.

    Social justice teachers are not a new thing.

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