A school full of smiley-faced children

If you’re a good parent, you probably try hard to protect your children from strangers who might harm them.SchoolpicYou monitor your children’s activities on the Internet and you don’t let them post pictures of themselves on public websites, especially pictures that might draw attention from the wrong people. You expect schools to exercise the same caution. If they post a picture of your child on their website, you expect them to cover your child’s face with a large smiley face. Well, not really, but that’s exactly what a school in England did, in a case of child protection ingenuity.

A primary school has been accused of being alarmist for covering up
the faces of pupils on its website – apparently to protect them from
paedophiles. Bizarrely, the images have been altered with the type of smiley faces popular during the Acid House dance craze of the 1980s. The decision was taken at Cann Hall Primary School in Clacton, Essex.

Headmistress Clare Reece said yesterday: "The public nature of the internet is an issue we feel strongly about. Not all parents want their children’s picture on there. You can’t say what is going to happen with any of those pictures."

She said that the photographs were printed unaltered in the school newsletter which was sent to parents. But on the primary’s website, the children’s faces are obscured.

school guarantees the content of the site is "child friendly", adding:
"In order to protect our children, we have made the decision not to
include any photos of our pupils on this website." [Link]

A lot of schools don’t post any photos whatsoever. If they do post photos, they get parents’ permission or make sure children are unidentifiable. The smiley faces are great because they not only save the photographer the trouble of getting the kids to smile, but also protect children from all pedophiles, except the rare smiley-face-tantalized ones. That might explain why one boy, in the back row of medal-winners pictured above, was given a sad face. He must be the principal’s son.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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