Why do we need a policy?
Schools, playgroups and youth groups have always used photographs as a way of celebrating achievement or seeking publicity for fundraising etc. Parents and families and the children themselves often derive great pleasure from seeing their loved ones in print or on a website. We want to ensure that everyone can continue to enjoy these activities safely. However parents need to be aware that placing any identifying information in the public domain has risks. Parents need to understand these issues in order to give properly considered consent. It is important that parents and schools have the opportunity to fully consider the issues before any problems can arise.
So what are the risks?
The most highly publicised and worrying risk is that a child who appears in the paper or on a web site may become of interest to a predatory sex offender. Locating people through the internet has become extremely easy, using widely available software, so if there is a picture and the name of a setting or youth group and the name of the child it could be quite easy to find out the child’s address and even work out their likely route to school/the setting. There are also other specific groups of children and families whose safety could be put at risk if identified e.g. families fleeing domestic abuse.
To limit these potential risks, we will take appropriate steps, as outlined in the attached consent form, to safeguard children and the wider community.
Isn’t this just scaremongering?
Sadly no. We have had cases in Kent of families receiving unwelcome phone calls following appearances in the press. However this is rare so it is important to have a sense of proportion in these matters. Remember we want to celebrate success and achievement but parents must be aware of risks in order to make an informed decision.
What about school/setting websites?
The same concerns apply to school/setting controlled sites and there is an added concern that images of children may be copied directly from a site which can then be manipulated or changed by another person. Settings/Schools can copy protect images and use lower quality images which means they cannot be usefully enlarged but this can be bypassed so must not be relied upon to keep images safe.
I want to do my own recording of the school/setting play/event is this ok?
Taking pictures or recordings of your own children for your own personal use is ok. The difficulty arises with plays or other events in that other children may also be filmed. It is important that we are all aware that some members of the community (children or adults) may be vulnerable and must not have their image shared online as they could be put at risk from harm. You may not always know who these people and we need everyone’s support to protect the whole community. It’s also important for us all to role model positive behaviour for children, so it might be a sensible idea to check first before posting any images online which contain other children than your own.
Parents/carers should not copy images from the school/setting site without appropriate permission from the school/setting.