A representative of Israel's Teachers' Union told kindergarten teachers to turn off and permanently disable recording devices sent by parents to kindergarten with their children, Walla learned on Wednesday.
The representative sent this information in a Whatsapp message to a group of Tel Aviv-based teachers as well as the chairperson of the early childhood department of the Teachers' Union, Anat Dadon. She was explaining to the teachers how to respond if they find a recording device.
One of the teachers had forwarded a message to the group from a children's rights group encouraging concerned parents to send their children to school with a recording device and explaining legal ways to do so.
"Are there [specific] instructions for [what to do] if a recording device is found?" other teachers asked in the group. The chairperson of the Tel Aviv-Yafo preschool branch of the Teacher's Union, Orit Novik, responded: "Turn the device off. Wash [it] with water and soap if necessary. Tell the security guard and your supervisor and let the parents know that it is forbidden to bring recording devices to school."
Who is allowed to record and what can they record?
In reality, parents are allowed to record what goes on in kindergartens to a certain extent. According to a statement issued by the Israel State Attorney in 2017, if the recording device is attached to the child such that the child themselves is recorded, it does not constitute illegal nonconsensual recording. This is in order to protect the children. If a device is found in the child's belongings, it is technically illegal but not such that it can lead to prosecution in court.
In the same Whatsapp conversation, teachers expressed their dislike of the recording devices.
"I wish there were cameras so they could see the holy work we do and how many children with difficulties [we have to] deal with and how understaffed we are...[it is] as if we are witches, that [children] need to be protected from us."
The teachers continued, saying: "[The parents] themselves neglected the education and treatment of the children...it's shocking."
The prevalence of recording devices is one of the main factors contributing to the increase in child abuse cases being reported in recent years.
The Teachers' Union fears that recording devices infringe on teachers' privacy.
Recent instances of abuse by preschool teachers
An indictment was filed against Israeli preschool teacher Ilana Suisa, 55, in March for allegedly abusing and assaulting toddlers in her care on hundreds of occasions, according to a release from the Attorney General's Office.
The indictment was filed by Israel's Southern District Attorney's Office in the Beersheba district court. It stated that Suisa has been a kindergarten teacher in Sderot for 17 years, the last 12 of which were spent working with infants and toddlers aged 6-18 months.
During the period of time relevant to the indictment, Suisa had 18 children in her care and was found to be responsible for hundreds of instances of physical and mental abuse toward them.
In late January, Israeli media reported that a daycare worker sentenced to two years in prison for abusing toddlers may be released a year early.
The worker in question, Liraz Natan, was an assistant to Carmel Mauda, who ran a daycare center in Rosh Ha'ayin where the two engaged in several acts of abuse against the toddlers under their care.