Guidelines on Using Images/Video of Children

It is important to have robust guidelines and policies in place in relation to how you publish and share images/video of children in your care.

What does the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child say?

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says a child has a right to express his/her opinion in accordance with his or her age and maturity and the State must ensure that a child has access to information and materials from a diversity of media sources. However, the State must also protect children from harmful materials and all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, and must also ensure that a child has the right to protection from interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence.

So when shaping your policy on the use of images/video, the following issues in general should be taken into account:

  • Child Protection concerns
  • Privacy concerns
  • Equality concerns
  • A child’s right to express their views

Consent for Taking Images/Videos of Children

It is important to obtain consent for taking images/video of children.  Therefore a consent form and accompanying photograph and video use policy is necessary. The policy should identify when and where photos and videos of children will be used in relation to the early childhood setting. The consent form will enable parents to decide to if they would like their child’s photo or video to appear in print or digital content.

Parental/Guardian Consent

You need to seek clear and informed consent from the child’s parent or carer. You should have a consent form for parents to sign that establishes whether you have permission to use images or video of their child. Some parents will not want photos or video of their children to be used at all, so it is worth considering levels of consent in relation to their use. In order to accommodate the wishes of all parents, your consent form could ask parents to consent to one or more of the following:

  • I give permission for photographs or video of my child to be used.
  • I only consent to photographs or video of my child to be used in-house by the preschool/crèche and these may not be published in print or digital form.
  • My child’s preschool may share photographs or video with a designated third party for the purposes of professional accreditation (or for similar purposes).
  • My child’s preschool may publish photographs or video of my child on its website and social media platforms.
  • My child’s preschool may permit members of the press (who have visited the preschool) to take photographs or video of my child or may share photographs or video with members of the press.

If possible, you should also establish the geographic extent to which the photo or video will be used. However, it is not possible to establish such a restriction on material that is published digitally. Establishing a time limit (image to be used for an indefinite period or to expire on a certain date) is also a good idea. (See Privacy & Data Protection Concerns below).

Child’s Consent

If possible, you should ask children how they feel about their image being used. Ask them if they feel positive about it and try to elicit the reasons. However, getting consent from a child is not enough.

Photographers

If you employ professional photographers and/or filmmakers, ensure that you have their complete contact details. It is also important to establish that all photographs, negatives/proofs and video footage remain the property of your company/setting and cannot be used or sold for any other purpose. It is also important that no children are filmed or photographed without the supervision of a member of staff.

Journalists

It should be noted that the Data Protection Acts provides a “public interest” exemption in respect of the processing of personal data for journalistic purposes. This means that in some cases journalists can dispense with the consent of the data subject if publication is considered to be in the public interest. However, the Press Council of Ireland code of practice states that Journalists and editors should have particular regard for the vulnerability of children and should consider whether parental or other adult consent has been obtained for processing of personal information. So, in general, newspapers will require the consent of a parent/guardian.

Child Protection and Privacy & Data Protection

Events: Photographs & Video taken by Parents

Parents attending events run by the preschool/crèche are there at the invitation of the setting and it is up to the setting to decide whether they permit parents to take photos or video at these events. Your policy and consent form should spell-out that any photos or videos taken should are for personal, family, or recreational purposes only. Uploading such content to web sites or social media platforms might be seen to breach another individual’s right to privacy (See Privacy & Data Protection Concerns below).

Child Protection Concerns

There is evidence to indicate that information (including images of children) posted on web sites, newsletters, video and other media has been used to identify and target children for grooming and other potentially abusive purposes. Images that are in the public domain can be used and adapted for a variety of illicit purposes. So it is important to be able to identify potential risks in order to avoid putting children at risk, and also to protect their right to privacy, and their right to dignity. (See Privacy & Data Protection Concerns below).

Privacy & Data Protection Concerns

Photographs or recorded images are defined as personal data, and therefore may come within the scope of the Data Protection Acts 1988-2003. If you keep or process information about living people, then you are what’s known as a ‘data controller’, and you must comply with data protection legislation. In relation to privacy and data protection concerns in general, settings should consider the following:

  • Make your data protection policy available to parents in which you explain how and why images and video of children are collected and processed.
  • Make your photographs and video consent form available to parents.
  • As photographs & video are considered personal records, it is important to establish a records retention policy in your general data protection policy. Your retention policy should establish why you are keeping photos and video and that the photos or video are retained for no longer than is necessary for their purpose.
  • If you have CCTV on your premises, you should also put together a CCTV policy and procedure document.
  • Ensure that parents are aware that if they put photos or video on their web sites or social media platforms, then they might be in breach of an individual’s right to privacy. Under Data Protection law, you have a right not to have your personal data collected, published or otherwise processed without your consent.

For more information on data protection issues, go to https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/data-protection-ezine-october-2014/

Depicting Children in Photos/Videos

The use of images play an important role in many aspects of work with children and young people. Images in many formats can be used to record, document, demonstrate, promote and celebrate activities and experiences. Increasingly, accessible and diverse technology has meant that recording, sharing, disseminating and publicising images is more widespread than ever before. (Source. The Arts Council Guidelines for taking and using images of children and young people in the arts sector http://www.artscouncil.ie/uploadedFiles/Guidelines.pdf).

Media publicity can help to raise awareness of issues negatively impacting on children’s well-being. Depicting children in photos/videos in a particular way can convey powerful messages and can influence (good and bad) decisions that affect children’s lives. Children need to have a say and be able to express their opinions about the way they are represented in images and video.

Diversity: Equality & Discrimination

Disability: In relation to children with disabilities, you need to consider a number of factors. In many cases, children with disabilities will feature in images alongside able-bodied children and the disability will have no relevance to the image. However, if you are highlighting a disability, make sure it is relevant to the purpose of the image/video and ask the parent/guardian and the child (if appropriate) if they are is happy to have their disability depicted.

Minority children: If you are depicting children from minority communities, it is important that you do so sensitively and do not inadvertently discriminate against them by stereotyping them through their activity, appearance or environment. In general, it is important to try to reflect diversity when depicting groups of children by including children with disabilities and children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Gender Stereotyping Children: Issues around gender stereotyping of children in early childhood settings should be considered in relation to photos and videos and any stereotyping should be avoided. Consider the type of activities you are depicting and whether the participants include both boys and girls.

Using Images of Children in a Development Context: Ethical issues (not specifically related to child protection concerns) arise for organisations working in developing countries that wish to use images of children. For example, the ‘shock’ value of a starving child image may promote sentiment and emotion at the expense of political understanding and awareness of the complex social conditions in which the child lives. A good starting point to explore this issue is the Dochas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages (http://www.dochas.ie/images-and-messages).

General Guidelines on Using Images of Children

  • Use photos and videos that are appropriate or relevant to the activity in which the child is engaged. There are few reasons for posting photos of children who are not engaged in a specific activity of relevance to your setting.
  • Avoid providing additional information that can assist someone in identifying a child or which could be used as grooming tools (hobbies, likes/dislikes, full name of child and so on).
  • If you are displaying images of children on your web site, ensure the images come from a legitimate source, and try to limit the ability to copy an image by disabling the right-mouse click function.
  • Images and video are also ‘information’. The same care needs to be exercised in relation to storing images in your organisation as with other personal information.
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