Australian School Bans Swimming Photos. Why? Guess

Folks — The nhnhrdbbsh
Manifesto Club
in  Britain is just a brilliant group dedicated to many of the same issues as Free-Range Kids. Among them: The way that pedophile panic is making us distrust absolutely every adult around a child. The latest example? This:

An Australian primary school has banned parents from taking photos of their kids’ swimming gala.

The headteacher justified the move thus: “We want parents to be able to have a record of the children’s events and be part of that, but it’s about protecting our children. (Swimming) is part of their curriculum and they should be able to participate in that while feeling safe.”

The suspicion directed at parents is a defining feature of many contemporary ‘child protection’ rules. Rather than focusing on ‘dodgy strangers hanging around’, controls instead target parents trying to record milestones in their children’s lives.

This primary school is ‘protecting children’ against their parents; and suggesting that children will not feel ‘safe’ if their parents and their friends’ parents are snapping photos of their races (which is, of course, the opposite of the truth).

This kind of ridiculous rule is what turns a community into a citadel of distrust. It’s the same kind of rule I heard about today when I was on the Michael Graham radio show. He said he was not allowed to visit his child’s classroom to read aloud because he didn’t have a background check. Like he was going to molest a child while reading to the other 24.

Our marching orders? Distrust every human over the age of 18. They all want to prey on kids. Maybe even the 84-year-old lady “saying” she needed help with a heavy package. Lady — we know your pervy kind. – L.

What kind of disgusting pervert took this photo?

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74 Responses to Australian School Bans Swimming Photos. Why? Guess

  1. Warren May 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Was it not in Australia where a football club also did this, but had a profession photographer there, that you could buy photos from?

    I honestly do not see how they can legally do this, and I would fight it big time.

    By the way, what are they going to do, check the memory on my camera, or phone? Not bloody likely.

  2. Clark Cox May 28, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Every single time I’ve been told I’m not allowed to take pictures at one of my children’s events (most recently, a basketball game my 6-year old son was in), I make it a point to take as many photos as I possibly can, right in front of the busybody who told me I wasn’t allowed to. So far, they haven’t had the guts to do anything other than frown menacingly.

  3. Papilio May 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    “(Swimming) is part of their curriculum and they should be able to participate in that while feeling safe.”

    As if some 5yo is worrying ‘Oh no, I’m sooo gonna be on if mom takes a picture of me now!’
    Who’s paranoia problem is this anyway? Not the kids’.

  4. hineata May 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Most of the commenters on the original site seem to be firmly against the idea, which is encouraging, but it’s disturbing that it was ever raised in the first place. One commenter points out that the ban is against the law in S.A. anyway, so here’s hoping parents ignore it.

    Also, what’s the worst that could conceivably happen? An actual pervert takes a photo, or a photo is put up on social media and downloaded by such. As we’ve commented before on this site, I would much rather some creep was jacking off to an image of my kid playing/swimming happily in a bathing suit, than that of some poor kid who has actually been exploited. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if child pornography could be reduced to innocent shots of kids at swim meets? I welcome the day……

  5. Gillian May 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    I don’t want people to take pics of my kids in the background and posting it online. That’s what irritates me the most….people are taking pics with iPhones, not cameras…..and you can’t be sure if they’re going to post it to FB or somewhere else.

  6. anonymous this time May 28, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    Hineata, yeah.

    Just, yeah.

  7. Sha May 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    @Gillian: Why does it matter?

  8. JJ May 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Ever since I can remember–I am sure starting in 4th grade or so–there has an unwritten rule among girls that you don’t take pictures when people are in their bathing suits. I can’t be the only one who knows about this! (“From the shoulders and up only, people!”) And it has nothing to do with fear of perverts, it has to do with self-consciousness–fear of having to see yourself in the photo, if you will. Are we sure that the fear is about what we think its about?

  9. Kimberly May 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    I disagree with this – but have a question. As a teacher at events how should I handle an endangered child participating while other parents take pictures.

    I currently have a newly adopted child in my class. He was abused, removed from the home, and his biological parents’ rights terminated.

    They have tracked the adoptive family once and threatened kidnapping. There is an RO in place and we have the paper work from the relevant agencies showing this is real. After talking to the Mom, I simply asked parents to please not post pictures publicly but lock them down to friends and family. But I didn’t reveal the child in question.

    The parents all were fine with that. At my school this is a real concern. There is a long list and set of photographs of people not allowed on campus because of parental wishes (cut off family members), court orders including TRO and RO’s.

    Believe me we work hard to find a balance between the safety of families with concerns due to history and the general population of the school.

  10. Kimberly May 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    I’m brain dead – I meant I disagree with the way this was handled at that school. Just want feed back of about hand to handle real threats, privacy concerns, and the right of the general public to come make memories and take pictures.

    7 more days 7 more day 7 more days

  11. Tsu Dho Nimh May 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    “I don’t want people to take pics of my kids in the background and posting it online.” So keep your children in cloaks with bags over their heads whenever they are out in public.

    I am a photographer. I have a legal right to take pictures in a public place, including pictures of dogs, cats, birds, old geezers, adolescents, and children.

    I even have a legal right to publish them – with a few exceptions – without the permission of the subject or the subject’s legal guardian. If I’m doing an article for Yahoo! about “Public Pools in Phoenix” I can take pics at those pools and publish them with the story.

    Let’s pretend that I took a picture of kids playing in the water at Slide Rock in AZ and posted it to Flickr. Let’s assume the absolute worst – a predatory pedophile saw the pictures and decided he wanted YOUR CHILD. How does this person go from a picture taken somewhere in AZ, of an unidentified child, find out who the child is and where they live? They can’t.

  12. Natalie May 28, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi jj- I think that it’s protection and not self- image that they’re worried about. The quote says something with regards to the children being safe. My daughters’ daycare has a permission slip that you have to sign in order for them to take pictures of your kids throughout the day. But that’s a product of a sue happy culture. Permission slips for applying sun block, permission slips for applying diaper rash cream… There’s a ton.
    I’ve never heard of a ban on taking pictures like this. Sounds like it won’t be a problem for long if so many are up in arms about it.

  13. Daniel May 28, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Just imagine the outrage of our great-grandparents’ generation when they took pictures like this one from 1914:öteborg.jpg

    Or this 1908 postcard from Omaha:

    Certainly not this Library of Congress picture:

    Or this one from 1912 Toronto:

    Perhaps Toronto was just very liberal on such things:

    Even in Israel back in 1937:

    Or this one from 1938:

  14. lollipoplover May 28, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    I have 3 kids on the swim team and own a crappy camera. When I see someone with a GOOD camera, I usually introduce myself, point out my kids, and if they are friendly enough, I give them my e-mail address to send my the AWESOME pictures I could never get.

    If you see someone with a camera taking pictures, introduce yourself. Most of the photographers I’ve met are grandparents or hobbyists and more than happy to help me out in capturing a memory. My favorite is my youngest doing the world’s slowest (but legit) Butterfly when she was 6. Great arms and determined face…priceless.

    What’s the difference between a bathing suit photo of a child swimming vs. a dance recital photo of a girl in a leotard with required makeup? When does this insanity end with limiting person freedoms (like taking pictures in public places?)

  15. Sonya May 28, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    I live in Australia and this was initially started by private schools who employed a photographer and sold photos back to the parents (nothing to do with potential pervy issues) solely for PROFIT to the school.

    Other schools have taken this idea and made it a child safety issue, so that either parents don’t object to paying for photos of their own kids OR it’s parents pushing the issue and threatening legal action.

    At my local school I had to sign a right to take photos of my kids (which the school can post on the website) when they enrolled. Only one family has NOT signed this, and their kids are left wondering why they can have a photo taken when they win an award etc.

    Political correctness gone astray! 🙂

  16. LauraL May 28, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    We have to sign a photo thing too. I have never had issues with anyone taking pictures, nor have I run into anyone worried that I was taking pictures. We share ’em!

  17. This girl loves to talk May 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Im Australian and photograph my kids at the school carnival swimming and coming out of the pool and I even photograph other kids and text it over to their parents as they have to work and cannot make the swimming carnival. I also do remember signing a right that my kids may be photographed at school and used in posters, school newsletter etc though

  18. Donna May 28, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    @Kimberly –

    My question is why does it matter? What real threat is generated from seeing a picture of even an endangered child?

    It appears that you would have to (a) know where the child is to be able to find the picture and therefore the threat is not the picture, or (2) be incredibly lucky to randomly find a picture of the child you covet on the web among many billions of pictures.

  19. Natashia May 28, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    This is actually illegal. My husband is an amateur photographer so we made sure to read through the laws concerning incidental photographing of children and strangers.
    The police will quite often tell you they can look through your camera, delete pics, etc. But is not an order you are required to comply with under the law. And if the police cannot, then school administrators cannot. They can make it school policy all they like, but they are not able to enforce it in any way other than social pressure.

  20. Earth.W May 29, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    Many Australian schools have these rules and have held these rules for a long time.

  21. craig May 29, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    I don’t get it. Your kids are IN PUBLIC swimming, walking around in swimsuits in front of lots of people. Why would someone taking a picture of them alarm you any more than the people there seeing them in person? It is illogical.

  22. J.T. Wenting May 29, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    children are not endangered, there are millions and millions of the critters and their number is increasing every day. Tasmanian wolves are endangered. There’s a few hundred of them and declining.

    Yet I can (if I can find them) take pictures of Tasmanian wolves without anyone telling me it’s not allowed (in fact I’d even be encouraged to by the conservationists).

  23. Donald May 29, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    I’m on the fence on this one. I can’t find fault in the principal. They are between a rock and a hard place. The photos were free. If they were at a cost that would be quite different.

    I just hate that people think it’s necessary in the first place. Most people have a camera on their mobile phone. If someone wants to do something sinister, this won’t stop them. However this ‘theatre security’ is only a small part of the problem.

    Parents have a responsibility to train their children to be ready for the adult world that has times in it that are not so fun. There is ‘reducing potential hurts’ and there is ‘going way overboard’.

    Many parents don’t know what overboard is. They are obsessed with removing disappointment as much as possible. They forget that children will become adult age and will face hard times. We can’t prevent this. However we can prevent them from becoming mature.

  24. Beth May 29, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    @Craig, great point!

  25. Silver Fang May 29, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    I think the reasoning behind the ban is the fear that people can now instantly upload the photos and videos to the Net, which makes some people uneasy. I tough, that’s the new technology. Deal with it!

  26. Andy May 29, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    A Japanese friend of mine asked me why laws and rules like this are only in English speaking countries. At first I thought it was an unusual question, but after thinking about it, it’s not so strange. When I hear of a ban like this it’s always the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, ect. You never hear about photo bans in Japan, Germany, France, places where English is not the primary language unless it’s political,or military oriented.
    Just a thought.

  27. Andy May 29, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    I just read the website and the writer says the same thing. Except he uses the term Anglo-Saxon parts of the world.

  28. Brian May 29, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I wouldnt mind if they banned pictures at all of my kids’ events just because it is absurd for parents to spend all their time taking pictures instead of paying attention.

    As Louie CK said, “why are you going to watch a video of something you didn’t even see when it was live?”

    The communal experience of audience is lost when 2/3rd of the crowd is a press corp instead of participants.

  29. Lola May 29, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    And yet, when poor little schoolchildren are forced to wear ridiculous and extremely unconfortable disguises for a stupid play, no one prevents parents from taking pictures and videos.
    Then, years later, these pictures are hilariously shown off for spouses and extended family to have a few laughs… Now banning THAT should be seriously considered, don’t you agree?

  30. Natalie May 29, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Hi Andy,
    I’ve noticed that to. I wonder if its also because those that don’t speak English as their mother tongue are less likely to participate on an English language site. Also, stories that are relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of world news are less likely to be translated to English. You can’t search in Japanese, or French, or German. Or maybe you can and can let us know if you find anything interesting! I speak Hebrew and can read the on-line news articles from Israel, but I’d have to do an in depth search to see if this is a topic at all. Even if it was an issue, it might not be a newsworthy issue. There might be some blogs, who knows?

  31. Havva May 29, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    @ Andy,

    The latest research indicates that fear is an orally transmitted pathogen. This particular strain (photo perv fearus) is spreading via the English language vector. Avoiding contact with English language media is an effective means of limiting the spread of PPF.

    Unfortunately, many people in the English world lack access to uncontaminated media. Further, much of the population show media addictive behaviors, where in they seek out protracted contact with English language media, particularly those parts featuring harm to children and other vulnerable segments of the population. Neurologically these individuals appear to be seeking the heightened sensation arising from elevated adrenalin levels. This behavior both increases contact with PPF and vulnerability to PPF from other sources. The elevated adrenalin levels also make the sufferers more resistant to preventative or therapeutic inoculation, such as that available through logic, or FRK.

  32. Havva May 29, 2013 at 11:57 am #


    I do recall lots of girls being insecure about photographs. Particularly in their bathing suits. That seemed to start with the onset of puberty. But do we really need to encourage this mentality among 5 year-olds?

    I think one of the things that helped me past the awkward phase was looking at old pictures of my self running through the sprinklers in the ill-fitting bikini that I (at the time) thought was the prettiest thing ever. Realizing that objectively I looked a lot stranger then, made me understand that what we see in a picture is distorted by our self image.

  33. J.T. Wenting May 29, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    It is rampant in the rest of Europe too, but not to this extreme.
    Mostly the rest of Europe takes the other path by simply making men feel so unwelcome (without downright barring them access as that would be discrimination) at public places that they just stay away.

  34. Natalie May 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Which countries in Europe?

  35. Sally May 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    @Brian — I had the same exact thought when I read this story.

  36. steve May 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    The irrational nature of THE ISSUE OF CHILD SAFETY is illustrated by the sharp contrast between what our Helicopter Society claims must be done for children’s safety and security, and the daily irresponsible behavior of doctors and healthcare workers who RESIST doing a simple activity that really does save lives.

  37. CLamb May 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Perhaps the school is afraid that some of the parents believe that photographs steal a person’s soul?

  38. Papilio May 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    @Natalie: Thanks for asking 🙂 Europe is much more divers than many non-Europeans seem to realize…

    @Andy: I thought about that too… I think language barriers (or the lack thereof) play a big role in spreading and reinforcing certain ideas, certain parts of culture. The English language is spread over three different continents, so people can read/watch eachother’s news very easily and I guess that makes the world seem small (I suspect ‘the world’ often actually means ‘the English speaking world’, which only makes this perception worse). News agencies don’t need to translate stuff.
    If I’d fly from Amsterdam to Lissabon, I’d pass three countries and two languages and end up in a foreign country where I can’t read the local newspaper. That’s a slightly smaller distance than New York to New Orleans, but I’m sure it feels totally different.

    So… is there anyone here who knows what’s going on in the Spanish or Portugese speaking world? Do they have a similar small-world-news-sharing effect?

  39. Natalie May 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    @papillo- where are you from?

  40. Peter May 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    I don’t want people to take pics of my kids in the background and posting it online.

    Come on, Gillian! It is important that you teach your kids the art of the Photobomb!

  41. Jim Collins May 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Gillian’s comment cracked me up. This past Easter, I was taking pictures of my Great Niece while she was visiting with the Easter Bunny. A woman told me that if I was going to post my pictures on line, to make sure that neither of her children were in them. When I asked why, I got the line about somebody seeing their pictures and abduction one of them. I told her that I wouldn’t get her children in the pictures. When I was leaving, I saw her getting into a mini-van that had the decals on the rear window with her children’s names, the football team her son played on and the gymnastics club that her daughter attended. She also had her children’s school bumper sticker, right beside her license plate. If somebody wanted one or both of those kids, she was making it very easy for them.

  42. Warren May 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    My advice, is the parents organize.
    Each and every parent show up with as many cameras as possible. Dig out the old Polaroids, the 35 mm, the 110s the digitals and the phones. Show up with 4 and 5 cameras each.

    What are they going to do about it?

  43. Kate May 30, 2013 at 3:42 am #

    This begs the question: why are the parents at the swimming carnival? If they’re not actually helping organise the kids they’re just in the way.

  44. Lola May 30, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    In Spain we’re as hyped by alarmist news as everywhere else, I guess… The thing is, it’s mostly local news what we’re tuned to. Right now, the panicky mood about children’s safety is mostly directed against teenagers and young adults, regarding cyberbullying. It seems that they’re more proficient in using social networks than previous generations, and they have plenty of free time to fiddle with their electronic gadgets.
    In general, although we don’t distrust adults being around children, it’s true that a more accelerated way of life and the tendency to communicate electronically, has somewhat maimed the feeling of community, so there’s way less chatting with strangers (therefore getting to know neighbours, or making friends with cashiers and clerks) than there was when I was little.

  45. Nicolek May 30, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    I’m on the fence, not for safety reasons but for privacy reasons. If its just going in their family albums then who cares. But if its up on facebook, maybe tagged with my kids name so advertisers can have that much more info on us, or if its a puc where their kid looks good but mine is picking her nose or something…. It could be rmbarassing to her. Even if its a pick i like, my kid might not want it plastered over the web because maybe she hates it. The problem with photos is its not just for peoples coffee tables anymore.

  46. Warren May 30, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Again this is an issue of the Princess Syndrome, with the heightened sense of entitlement.

    Parent and or child A does not want their picture taken, so they bitch, whine and moan to stop everyone from taking pictures.

    Here is an idea, I know it is way out there, but what the hell…………if you do not like having your picture taken, then do not attend events where people are taking pictures.

    This ranks up there with banning dodgeball, banning nut products, and so on. The group has to lose out because of a few whiners.

  47. Emily May 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    @Warren–The article said that swimming was part of the primary school curriculum, so there wouldn’t really be any way for the kids and parents to opt out of the swimming event in order to avoid being photographed.

  48. Warren May 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Then it really sucks to be those who do not want to be around cameras.

    It is about time we returned to reality when it comes to schools and kids.

    With all the allergies, special needs, phobia’s and nuerotic parents, the children without all this crap are losing out.
    We are bending over backwards for evey little bitch and moan, that we are sacrificing the kids.

    If your kid can’t eat peanuts, teach them to avoid them. If your kid can’t take dodgeball, don’t play, if you don’t want your kid photographed, opt out of the event, and if have to take a not complete.

    Enough is enough. I am sick and tired of all these parents that think their little prince or princess is so damn special that they get to dictate what the rest of us can do or not do.

    The rest of the world needs to grow a pair and start telling these people to shut up, suck it up, or get lost.

  49. Emily May 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Actually, Warren, you’ve just illustrated a very good point. Some special needs are unavoidable–for example, an elementary-school student with a peanut allergy does need to be accommodated somewhat–clearly labelled “peanut” versus “non-peanut” tables in the cafeteria, teachers really pushing the handwashing for the other kids, etc. A student at any level who’s in a wheelchair needs to be accommodated too, with ramps, etc., so they can access their school building, get to all their classes, and participate fully in the school experience. A student with an abusive non-custodial parent (for example) who’s not allowed access to him or her, needs the school administration to enforce that.

    However, since there have been so many helicopter parents (and even the students themselves) making ridiculous requests for things like peanut-free colleges, no birthday cupcakes in elementary school, or vending machines with snacks and pop in high school, and ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOS at the school swim meet, people start to develop “accommodation fatigue,” and tune ALL the requests out, whether they’re legitimate and reasonable, or not. In the end, it’s not just the kids without special needs who lose out; it’s everyone–the kids and the parents with special needs resent that they’re being made out to be snowflakey even if they’re not, and the kids and parents without special needs still resent having to change the way they do things. As for the photos, I think maybe the school could have phrased it differently–instead of the “child safety” angle, which implies that all parents are pedophiles, they could have said, “flash photography can distract the swimmers/athletes/performers in the school play,” or even just, “The principal will take photos and send them to anyone who asks, so you can enjoy the event now, without being distracted by photographing/filming the whole thing.”

  50. P a p i l i o May 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    @Nicola: I mentioned Amsterdam for a reason; I’m from the Netherlands. (Should I debunk some myths now? 🙂 )

    @Lola: I’ll admit that I’m not a parent and thus less informed on whatever alarmist hypes parents over here get, but I do read the paper and it doesn’t feel as if stuff is being hyped/exaggerated/brought up ALL the time, much less when it’s news from abroad that needs to be translated first.
    I still see kids playing in the streets, and the ‘building corner’ in Kindergarten is still there for 5-year-olds to hammer nails in pieces of wood (and hit their fingers once in a while). Sometimes we read on this site about daily life in Germany/Japan/Denmark/you name it, and that made me wonder what role culture plays, but also, since Lenore also shows how fearmongering ‘news’ can be, what role big versus small language areas play in this.
    Do you have any idea if cyberbullying is also a hot topic in Central and South America? Could news hypes there be influencing the news (and the idea of what ‘news’ is) in Spain? Or are the different countries in the Spanish speaking world too different from one another and therefore not comparable to the Anglo-Saxon world?
    I’m just being curious here!

  51. Warren May 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm #


    It has nothing to do with accomodating. It has to do with demands and the resulting bans on things, foods, and activities.

    If you have custodial issues then take the appropriate steps. But do not expect the rest of the parents and students to be responsible for your issues.

    Your kid is allergic to whatever, take the appropriate precautions, but do not make the rest of the students and parents responsible.

    Your kid doesn’t like a sport or activity, tell them to suck it up. And stop making the rest of the students resposible. We all had activities we didn’t like. But we didn’t have mommy and daddy trying to get it banned.

    So sorry that you and your ex are fighting over custody……..not my fault, issue or problem. And I will be damned if I and the rest of the school have to sacrifice taking pictures of our kids events, because you have personal problems.

    It is about time people took responsibility, instead of making others responsible. Custody issues should not be an issue for the school. If you have a custody issue, or an order of protection, than you deal with it, not the school.

  52. Warren May 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    As for the rewording of the photo ban……… There should not be a photo ban whatsoever. No matter how you word it, no matter how you sugar coat it.

    Like I said, you don’t want to take a chance you kid will end up in a photo, do not attend the class, and accept the incomplete or failing grade. Not my problem or issue, and sucks to be you.

  53. hineata May 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    @Kate – presume you are joking, but if not, it’s normal ‘down under’ for parents to turn up and watch swimming carnivals, in primary school at least. Surely ‘up there’ parents turn up to these sorts of things, sports games etc? All the movies I see that feature ‘grid-iron’ seem to have the requisite yobbos yelling at their kids from the sidelines, like we do here 🙂 .

  54. Donna May 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    @Emily, Why authorize a ban on photos at all?

    There is a difference between separate peanut tables and non-peanut tables and handwashing if you are dealing with a specific child with a deadly allergy spread by contact (I’m opposed to blind bans of peanuts not in reference to actual situations) and banning photos. An allergy is a medical problem. The photo issue is just personal choice. A school needs to accommodate the legitimate medical needs of its students (in the way that impacts the rest of the students the least). A school doesn’t need to make sure every single person’s personal choices are respected at all times.

  55. Emily May 30, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    @Donna–Normally, I wouldn’t be in favour of a photo ban, unless it was a safety issue; for example, a dance performance where flash photography could distract the dancers and cause an accident. However, for all we know, there might be a specific student at that swim meet who can’t have his or her picture posted online, because of a stalking ex, or something of the sort, like at Kimberley’s school–and, someone mentioned upthread that most people post their photos on Facebook or other social networking sites these days. The principal obviously isn’t going to announce that to everyone in attendance, for privacy reasons, so I think that, in a situation like this, the best thing to do is have the principal or someone else designated as a photographer and/or videographer, and take the photos and videos, which would then be free for the asking to the relevant students or parents.

    Also, sometimes it can be a “manners” issue as well. When I was in the band in high school, one of my parents’ biggest pet peeves was when the other parents would stand up during performances, or move into the aisles, and push and shove each other to try to get a good photo or video of THEIR kid, because it’d ruin the concert for everyone else. Most of the musicians agreed with this sentiment, and wished their parents would stop. Fortunately, my parents were polite, and just sat and watched during concerts. So, chances are, there are probably some kids at that swim meet who are all too happy not to have parents taking photos and videos–not only because they don’t want to be photographed or videotaped in their bathing suits, but because they don’t want to see their parent elbowing another parent out of the way to get a good view. Also, the flashing lights of multiple cameras and camcorders in the audience, can be really distracting from the stage–it would have been better if there’d just been one, off to the side, so that the event would be documented for parents who wanted it documented for later, but without detracting from the event in the moment.

    So, like I said before, I wouldn’t phrase this as a “don’t,” because people often respond better to positive statements than negative ones–so, “don’t take photos or videos, because you’re all a bunch of boorish louts/potential pedophiles” wouldn’t go over well, but “Principal Smith will take photos and videos of the event, for anyone who wants them,” sounds a lot better.

  56. Warren May 30, 2013 at 9:34 pm #


    Hate to burst your little bubble. I really don’t see how someone having custody or stalking problems, is my concern. Why because one or two people have a problem with their picture being taken should the rest of the students and parents be restricted?

    As for the distraction of dozens of photo taking parents………suck it up. My parents did not do it, but they did not whine about those that did.

    You are missing the point Emily, dozens, hundreds of others are not responsible for one or two kids. If one or two kids have an issue with photos, it is just too bad. Learn to live with it, or avoid it. But do not expect the rest of us to stop doing it, just because of you. Yes sucks to be them, but then again, life sucks from time to time.

  57. Donna May 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    @Emily –

    I have to agree with Warren here – your custody battles are not my problem. There is no reason that I should expect the rest of the class to refrain from taking pictures of their children because you have personal problems.

    And, as I said to Kimberly, I just don’t see a legitimate issue here. Either the stalker knows where to find the actual child to be able to see the picture – ie. you would have to know that the child is my daughter’s class to know to look at my pictures – so I fail to see what seeing a picture changes, or the stalker would just happen to randomly find a picture of his/her child amongst the billions of photographs of children while surfing the web and s/he should really go buy a lottery ticket because s/he is the luckiest damn person on the planet.

  58. Emily May 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    @Warren and Donna–I don’t have custody issues, because I don’t have kids. As for the photo/video thing, maybe it’s just my background as a music student talking, but we were taught “audience etiquette” from the beginning, and part of that was not standing up or blocking the aisles to take pictures or videos. Unfortunately, the music teachers couldn’t (politely) teach the same lessons to the parents, so it happened anyway. But, I really don’t see the big deal with streamlining the photo/video process, by having just one person doing it for everyone. That way, the students can sing/dance/play music/do their athletic event, without being distracted by tons of flashing lights, buzzing, beeping, and parents jockeying for the best spot, parents can sit and watch the event without being jostled and elbowed by “paparazzi parents,” and everyone still gets a record of the event if they want it. The only way that that would be obnoxious would be if the school was going to charge money for copies of the photos or videos, but the school principal in the article is offering them up for free, so I don’t see a problem.

    However, Donna, you have a fair point about the stalker issue–as long as the child in question wasn’t in the pictures, then yeah, the offending adult would have to know who that child’s classmates were, and it’d be almost impossible for them to find their child on the Internet. So, I’ll give you that, but I still think there’s something to be said for having an official photographer or videographer at school events, even if it’s more of a “manners” thing than a “safety” thing.

  59. Warren May 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm #


    You know damn well, if you go to one authorized picture taker, it is going to cost. And I will have to settle for whatever picture this person happen to take of my child.
    Sorry does not work for me.

    Like I said the dstraction thing has been going on since the camera was born. I put up with it as an athlete, and it is all part of the performing world. Just have to teach the kids and teachers to suck it up.

  60. Donna May 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    @Emily –

    I don’t want an official photographer at an event. Well, there can be one but I’m not relying on him for pictures. See his job is to take pictures of everyone. I’m sure your children (and I mean the proverbial you since the actual you doesn’t have children) are darling and all but I really just want a couple pictures of MY kid doing her stuff. And I kinda want the pictures that I want and not the pictures that the photographer thought to snap.

    Face it, most kid performances are not Broadway. Nobody is there for a quality show. They are there to see their kid perform. They want pictures/videos of their kid performing, not videos/pictures in which their children are unidentifiable specs in an off-key song rendition of God Bless America. And, god forbid, you put the entire concert – you know those wretched performances that don’t have my kid in them that I already had to sit through once – on one video.

    Now for those who have kids with talent who are engaged in advances performances, I can see where a videographer would come in handy. But for the run-of-the-mill mandatory school performance, it is so nit what I want.

  61. Emily May 31, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    @Warren and Donna–First of all, the principal in the article offered the photos for free, so it doesn’t always cost money to have an official photographer or videographer–notice how I didn’t say “professional”; I just said “official,” so this person could just be a teacher or parent who’s volunteered for the job. Also, there are ways to do it so that every parent gets a decent shot of their child–take a photo/video of each soloist in the concert, or each scene in the school play, pan slowly across the room so that the camera focuses for a moment on each child in the choir or the band, etc. Failing that, there’s nothing wrong with the parents taking photos of their child in their uniform/costume/performance attire before or after the event–this way, they get a keepsake without infringing upon others’ enjoyment of the event.

    Also, Warren, I did preface before by saying, “maybe it’s my background as a music student talking,” but what sports did you do? I’m asking this, because, not all events are created equally. I’d definitely expect some rowdiness at a football or soccer or hockey game, for example, but at a Classical music concert, the audience is expected to be quiet. So, multiple flashing, buzzing, video cameras, wielded by pushy parents, in an otherwise quiet auditorium, is going to be more distracting than if the same number of cameras were recording a soccer game. For us, fortunately, it was just an annoyance, but in some cases, I think it should absolutely be banned. For example, a gymnastics meet would require a quiet audience just the same as a musical performance, because distracting a child on the balance beam, or the high bar, or in the middle of a complicated floor routine, could actually be dangerous.

  62. Nicolek May 31, 2013 at 3:16 am #

    Talk about entitled “I have the right to your image and to use it however I want abd if you dont like it you should never leave the house”

    Im all for sharing pucs on public platforms like FB if you want to have an online presence. What Im not fo iis forcing people to have an online presence whether they want one or not. Forget security, do we have the right to make these decisions for ourselves or not?

    I dont post my kids pics if FB not because of predators but because I yhink ir should be her choice. She can post pics when she decides to.

  63. Donna May 31, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    @Emily – I think this is one of those things that you really can’t understand because you don’t have children and haven’t attended “recitals” of 10 stage-shocked 4 year olds, one of whom happen to be yours.

    The fact is that I don’t want a panned version of every kid in the kindergarten recital “singing” off-key. I don’t want a video of each painful scene in the school play when my child only has 2 lines in scene 2. My kid is probably not going to a soloist in anything (unless we uncover some talent we haven’t so far), even though she tries real hard. I want a video if my kid performing her little heart out as bad as it may be. I may even enjoy the performances of her close friends who I know well. Your 5 year old’s off-key performance doesn’t really interest me in the least.

    Now as my child ages and the kids performing actually develop talent that is enjoyable to watch regardless of personal relationships, I can see wanting memorialize an entire play rather than my child’s 2 lines. But until that happens, I’m not going to support a single videographer/photographer.

  64. Donna May 31, 2013 at 5:35 am #

    @NicoleK – Nobody is interested in your child except you, and maybe some of your friends and family. I know that none of my friends and family really care about her at all. Nobody is going to post pictures of your child in their Facebook page because they want to post pictures of your child. Sorry, your kid is simply not that magnetic or interesting. That may be harsh but it is the truth.

    However, many people who just so happen to exist in the same space as your child may enjoy posting pictures of their child for their friends and family to see. And if your child does occasionally inhabit the space of other children, your child may end up in a picture or two taken by someone else, either in the background or posing with their children.

    It is not remotely entitled to think that I can post pictures of my child regardless of who happens to be in the background or that I can post pictures of my child’s going away party – you know that party where your child ate my food, drank my drinks and enjoyed my 30 foot waterslide (very cool slide) – that happen to contain your child as a guest of my child. It is entitled to think that you should have a right to enter other people’s space and yet demand that people not capture your image at all.

  65. Donna May 31, 2013 at 5:40 am #


  66. Donna May 31, 2013 at 5:46 am #

    And, again, I am speaking metaphorically when I use the term “you.” I do understand that I don’t know Nicolek and her daughter didn’t actually attend my child’s going away party (although she probably would have liked the waterslide), but I am sure that her daughter has attended some party somewhere and it is not remotely entitled to think that those hosts can take and post pictures of their child’s event without NicoleK’s express permission. Smart with school performances, recitals, sporting events and the like.

  67. Donna May 31, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    That should be “same with…” Between autocorrect and spontaneous postings of such intteligent tidbits as “And,” I might as well give up tonight and go to sleep.

  68. hineata May 31, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    You had a thirty foot water slide?! My kids will pose for most any photo you like – in appropriate togs, of course – for the chance to play, lol! You can even post them on Facebook 🙂 .

    Hope the move back to the US goes well.

  69. Warren May 31, 2013 at 10:16 am #


    Your arguement is mute, as most common sense schools, which I include my kid’s schools in, ask that you do not use flash photography during performances, and they designate a couple of vantage points for photography.

    If you have a problem with an obnoxious parent getting in your way, be polite and tell them to get the fuck outta your way.

    If you are that against it, then do not take your daughter to where her pic may be taken, it is that easy. It is your paranoid issue, not anyon else’s.

  70. Emily May 31, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    @Warren–I think you meant my argument was moot, not mute. As for the “vantage point for photography and videos” thing, my high school didn’t do that. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “be polite and tell the pushy person to get the F out of the way” either, because those are two completely opposite ideas. However, looking back, I agree that it would have been a good idea, and it also would have been a good idea if the music teachers had distributed copies of the videos they made of each concert, either for free, for a small price, or as a “bring your own tape” kind of deal (DVD’s weren’t big yet). This would have probably suited a lot of people just fine, because they didn’t have the “I just want to watch my kid” mentality; partly because our concerts mostly consisted of ensemble work, and partly because the parents were able to recognize the talents of students who didn’t share their DNA–so, my parents would look forward to my concerts to hear me play with the band, of course (and more so if I had a solo within a band piece, as I didn’t do full solos until university), but they’d also be looking forward to hearing the jazz band, or hear one particular girl in my year who was a very talented singer, and so on. Most other parents felt the same way; not just because our music teachers held us to a certain standard (not always possible with little kids), but because we had a sense of community. Lenore has said many times that lack of community is hurting the free-range movement, which is why it bothers me to see this mentality of “I don’t want to see YOUR KID, just mine.” I think that if I had a child enrolled in a group thing, like dance, choir, Suzuki violin, or whatever, even if the kids were young, I’d be interested in seeing how my child dances/sings/plays/interacts with the other kids during the performance, even if the performance itself is at the “beginner” end of the spectrum. That way, I’d have something to contrast it with in a few years, once the child has progressed.

  71. Warren May 31, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Okay Emily you win for now………….when you have kids, and more years of experience under your belt, then we will revisit this issue. Once the reality sets in of having to arrange time off work, attending evey little event, and sitting through endless performances by other kids, you will learn.

    And just for the record, when parents and grandparents attend performances it is for their kid, and grandkid, not the play or music. Adult that want to hear good live music, buy tickets, go out for dinner, and relax. Not sit in a crowded gym watching kids perform.

  72. Donna May 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    @Emily –

    There is a difference between seeing and what you want to save to video. Of course, the entire recital is enjoyable to watch in person. I don’t need the whole thing memorialized in video.

    Most kid recitals or school functions consist of 2 hours of class after class after class after class performing for 3 minutes each. It may be cute to see all the other classes do their thing when you are there but you really just want your kid’s class on video. And you can’t really share a video of an entire recital with family who live far away. Well, you can but it is pointless since even grandma is not going to slog through 2 hours of strange kids dancing poorly unless grandma happens to be confined to a nursing home and never gets visitors.

    A high school band concert is a different animal than most little kid recitals. You, as a performer, probably do want a video of everything because you know everyone, having gone to school with them for years. My kid goes to a community dance school that has various classes several hours a day, every day. We only know the kids in her class and maybe a kid or two in different classes that we just happen to know from outside of dance. A two hour video of total strangers dancing is just not something most people want.

  73. Emily May 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm #


    1. Good point about the mega-recitals. I’d forgotten about those, but I took figure skating for a few years as a kid, and our end-of-year skating carnivals were scheduled that way too. My parents probably thought they were incredibly boring, but they sat through them for me.

    2. Good point about sharing videos online–that wasn’t even close to being a “thing” when I was in figure skating (ages 6-8, so, 1990-1992). Nowadays, I just assumed that the videographer (if there was one) would use Windows Movie Maker or whatever to divide the whole recital into individual performances, and send each part to the relevant people, using the class enrollment lists.

    3. Maybe my experiences are colouring my opinion, but during my childhood and adolescence (including high school), video cameras were much bigger, clunkier, and louder than they are now, and they all included flashing lights. Nowadays, you can just unobtrusively film a child’s dance routine (or whatever) on an iPhone or similar, but back then, there was no such thing.

    4. This is my fault, but I think this discussion may be a bit beyond the purview of “Free Range Kids,” because it’s not about safety, or freedom, or bonsai/bubble wrap/helicopter parenting versus free-ranging, but more about audience manners. I do think, however, that audience etiquette should be taught whenever a child starts a “spectator-oriented” activity, whether that happens at age four with a Suzuki music class or preschool ballet, or at age fourteen in a high school music class. If the teachers include a note about photo/video/cell phone etiquette in the recital programmes, this strengthens the message for the kids, because it teaches them that the rules apply equally to everyone; both kids and adults.


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