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Something to Ponder: Surveillance Cameras to Protect our Children

  • 3 min read

Is it time for surveillance cameras to be made mandatory in schools and care facilities?

At least 3 videos surfaced this week on social media, of a nursery school teacher mercilessly beating up toddlers under her care. In one of the videos, the caregiver can be seen repeatedly slapping a toddler. In the second video, the teacher is seen making another poor baby clean up the floor and wipe her desk as well as her clothes she apparently vomited on. The teacher repeatedly rains slaps on her face and head asking, “Why did you vomit?” In yet another video, a toddler is slapped for refusing to sleep.

Anyone who saw these videos, parent or not, must have been horrified as I was. My immediate reaction was, why is the teacher so angry? Her anger could not have stemmed from the little ones’ inability to control their vomiting or refusing to sleep. That’s what toddlers do. She must have some other really deep underlying issue(s). I am no psychologist, so I’ll leave that to the professionals. However, I cannot help asking myself whether the time has come for South Africa to make it mandatory for institutions offering service to the populace, whether private or public to install surveillance cameras. All schools, hospitals, children’s homes, old people’s homes and other such institutions are fertile grounds for all manner of abuse, negligence and other despicable acts meted out on the usually helpless clients.

The days when people took on careers and worked with dedication because they loved what they did or because they viewed their work as a ‘calling’ are long gone. These days, most take whatever job that comes along, as long as it will put food on the table. Take for example the crèches and other such early childhood care centres. They employ women mostly because they believe a woman has motherly instincts and will nurture the little ones in their care as if they are their own. Whether a woman has children of their own or not, their mothering nature is supposed to kick in and make them gentle and caring to the little ones under their care. However, for whatever reason, it does not always work this way.

The media reported that the videos of the little children being abused at their nursery school were shot last year but were only released last week. Question is, how many other little ones have suffered the same fate under this teacher and other adults? How many other horrifying things are happening in places where the helpless are under the mercies of employees who see them as a burden instead of the reason they have a job in the first place? Had there been CCTV cameras in the school, wouldn’t this act have been stopped much earlier?

If the government was to make it mandatory for all institutions that provide educational and or medical care to install these surveillance cameras, they must also require someone in those institutions to review the tapes on a regular basis and notify the authorities immediately something suspicious is noticed. It will not do to install cameras just to fulfill the law and not follow up on what they record. The Carletonville crèche incident is also a good reminder that employers need to investigate as much as possible the background of people they are considering for employment. We can never be too careful with the lives we have been entrusted with.