Education, not cameras 'key to stop bullies'

But education still key

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
principal
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ
Principal Michael McMenamin of New Plymouth Boys' High School is in favour of security cameras being installed in schools if needed.

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Most Taranaki principals are in favour of security cameras to prevent bullying, but agree that education is still key in addressing the issue.

The Ministry of Education has suggested schools have cameras installed to discourage bullying. However, principals say the new measures would not combat the more prevalent issue of cyber bullying.

Spotswood College principal Mark Bowden said cameras were installed in key places in his school to protect school property.

While the CCTV idea "was OK", it does little to address issues like cyber bullying. "The form of bullying that all schools grapple with at the moment is Facebook and social media bullying, which is really difficult to deal with other than to talk to young people about it [bullying]."

New Plymouth Girls' High School principal Jenny Ellis said cyber bullying on social media sites was prevalent.

"Putting a camera in is not going to stop that."

The school runs a cyber citizenship programme annually to teach pupils how to be responsible internet users and how to keep safe online.

Fiona Green, of St Mary's Diocesan in Stratford, said the school does surveys asking pupils to identify spots where unwanted behaviour could occur, but feedback had indicated they felt safe at school.

Hawera High School has this year installed "quite a few" cameras around its grounds to keep vandals at bay.

"We didn't put them there specifically for bullying but we have found having cameras in school a good thing," principal Hans Konlechner said.

"The kids like them and their parents are happy."

Michael McMenamin, of New Plymouth Boys' High School, was in favour of the idea but said cameras were not needed at present. "But in my previous school for example, I had cameras around the school and it has been used and used very effectively."

McMenamin said processes were in place at Boys' High to deal with bullying.

"If a boy complains about being bullied or sees anything, we're duty bound to act on it and act on it quickly."

He would not hesitate to have cameras installed if a need for it arose.

Martin Chamberlain, of Francis Douglas Memorial College, said cameras would make the school feel like a "police state".

"I would concentrate on educating our students and creating a more positive climate whereby they're not tempted to engage in bullying."

Cameras would be considered only if there was a desperate need for them, he said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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