Body cams for local teachers?
Gillian Dunlop, head of Largymore Primary and a past president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was responding to calls elsewhere in the UK for such measures to be adopted.
“Northern Ireland is no different and we have seen a growing number of serious incidents in recent years,” she said. “We have seen teachers punched and kicked; a pupil even threatened to stab a pregnant teacher, while another staff member needed a tetanus injection after being bitten. Add to this that parents can sometimes find it hard to accept that their children are behaving this way and you have a recipe for disaster.
“Public servants are increasingly wearing body cams to avoid situations like this – police, ambulance staff, traffic wardens – and many schools already have cctv operating in public areas so taking all that into account perhaps the leap to wearing body cams isn’t as radical as at first seems. However, the fact remains that some of the children involved in these incidents shouldn’t be in a school setting in the first place or if they are, they need more specialised support.
“Schools should be havens, places of safety where young people can focus only on learning and developing. Teachers should be educators – not enforcers. Whilst body cams would be a last resort, teachers’ and pupils’ safety must come above all else.”