CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras are required in our daycares but not in our kindergartens. The current Infant Protection Act mandated the installation of CCTVs in all daycare centers after the horrifying abuse of young children and babies at childcare facilities in Incheon was disclosed in 2015. This left parents of kindergarteners feeling anxious because the law failed to protect their children too. According to data from the Ministry of Education, as of last month, only 39 percent of kindergarten classrooms nationwide had CCTV coverage. The public needs to urge the government to expand this coverage to kindergartens too.
It would protect children from potentially abusive situations. CCTV footage can be used as evidence of child abuse. While teachers may argue this infringes on their rights, we need to look at the bigger picture. The installation of CCTVs can effectively identify child abuse that has gone unreported. Infants who are not good at expressing their opinions can find it difficult to explain to their experiences to their parents. This means concerned mothers and fathers have no way of knowing how harmful an incident was by simply hearing it retold by their child. Small children can be hurt by more than just teachers. Other children in the facility can cause harm or simply playing or taking part in school activities can result in an injured child. Caregivers often don't know what happened when a child comes crying. CCTV data helps address the unknown. It guarantees guardians their right to know. For example, CCTV footage from a kindergarten in Geumcheon-gu in December 2020 revealed a teacher putting an unidentified liquid into a school meal. According to police analysis, the liquid was a toxic mosquito repellent. The police arrested the teacher on charges of child abuse based on the CCTV footage obtained. What would have happened if there were no CCTVs in this kindergarten? In this case, the footage protected the victims and their parents.
|▲ All day care centers are obligated to install CCTVs. (photo by Yonhap News)|
Next, the installation in CCTV cameras in kindergartens can help increase our trust in kindergartens and their teachers. Parents naturally want to prioritize the safety of their children and understand that CCTV coverage can prevent any on-going abuse. Knowing the footage is available would relieve the anxiety of parents and increase their trust in their children’s caregivers. Violence and abuse have occurred in recent years because less qualified teachers in schools take on too many children. Naturally, parents would never want their young children to be the victims of violence or abuse but they never know when their children are at risk. To put them at ease, CCTV cameras can help. These days, there are many dual-income families where either parent cannot afford to take the time to look after their children because they need or want to work. The installation of CCTV cameras in kindergartens is the least we can do to put their fears of abuse to rest. Without these devices in place, the anxiety or doubts parents experience will only escalate. Minor misunderstandings could result in overreactions. The best way to prevent this unsavory situation is to install cameras in kindergartens.
CCTV coverage can also protect kindergarten teachers. It provides a clear picture of what actually occurred and can resolve misunderstandings and protect teachers from irrational parents who launch false accusations. For example, in 2020 teachers at a daycare center were suspected of neglecting a young child named Jeong-in. However, once the CCTV footage was reviewed, teachers were able to resolve the matter with the concerned parents. It is clear, the installation of CCTV camera footage can help protect kindergarten teachers in the event of disputes with parents.
Kim Byung-wook, a member of the National Assembly's Education Committee, proposed a revision to the Early Childhood Education Act mandating the installation of CCTVs in kindergarten classrooms on the 24th of last month. If the bill is passes, it will protect children, help absolve teachers from claims of neglect or abuse, and increase the level of trust between parents and teachers. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for children to be protected from all forms or harm. The mandatory installation of CCTVs in kindergartens can ensure we live up to this objective. At the same time is can protect teachers from unjust claims of neglect or abuse and serve as a witness to outside intrusions or disputes between children.
|▲ The conflicts about the installation of CCTV in kindergartens are getting more serious. (photo from Newsis)|
As the installation of CCTVs has already revealed to the world crimes against infants in daycare centers, there is no denying that in the case of kindergartens, public interest is greater than any counterclaims of intruding on the privacy of teachers. With all these added benefits, it is important to ask those who oppose the mandatory installation of CCTVs, what are you afraid of?