Kids, this is an “adult.” Watch out!

Great (slightly wordy) article on iktnssyfzs
Psychology Today blog about how, with all our exhortations about “stranger danger”  we are teaching our children  “that the world is a dark and nasty place were everybody wants to murder and rape them…”

The assumption of disgusting intentions has gone so far that the blogger,  Helene Guldberg, author of Reclaming Childhood, had this happen to her at a local pool in England, where she lives:

Today it is almost impossible in the UK to take photos of one’s children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews in public places – if they are surrounded by other children. When my oldest nephew, Marcus, celebrated his fourth birthday with a pool party in Bristol back in 1996 I was able to take a number of shots of the children having fun in the pool. Ten years later, when his younger brother, Stefan, asked me to come and watch him during his swimming lesson and take some photos of him, all hell broke loose. Sitting by the side of the pool engrossed in conversation with a friend, I absentmindedly pulled the camera out of my bag. Mid-conversation I became aware of a kerfuffle going on in the background – whistles were being blown and lifeguards were waving their hands and shouting at someone. Turning our attention to the noise, wondering what on earth was going on, we realized that the lifeguards were shouting at me to put the camera away, as if I had taken a deadly weapon out of my bag. No photos could be taken of my nephew Stefan on the proud day he was able to swim an entire length of the pool for the first time.

Why not? Because the assumption there is that any kiddie photos could well be used as child porn, or posted on the Internet, attracting  pedophiles who put them on their ever-growing “to stalk” lists.

Weird, warped world. — Lenore  

41 Responses to Kids, this is an “adult.” Watch out!

  1. Layne Aingell July 18, 2009 at 3:56 am #

    Our public pools in Overland Park Kansas have the same policy. If you want to take photos at a birthday party, etc., you have to have written permission from the pool manager.

    I learned of this rule the same way the lady in England did, but lucky for me, without the kerfuffle.

  2. Corey July 18, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    I read photography forums from time-to-time (a hobby of mine – photography, not reading the forums… where was I?) and the topic of photographing children at public parks came up.

    Grandfathers with telephoto lenses, photographing their own grandchildren while sitting next to their sons or daughters have been asked by police to delete the photos because other people feared their children were in the shots

    I dunno about public pools, but in the US, you can shoot photos in a public park of whatever you want. If those parents don’t like it they can go home. That’s the law. You can’t publish and copyright without permission of others in the photo, but for personal use you can shoot whatever you can see with your eyes anyway.

    And furthermore, if a police officer asks you to delete photos, he is way, WAY outside his legal authority. He can arrest you and seize the camera, but even then he can’t delete the photos (destruction of evidence). And if he did arrest you he’d need a pretty imaginative charge since you can legally shoot photos in a public place without harassment.

    So… I wonder if some of us free-range types should team up with those photography types and just force the issue more often. Find one in your neighbourhood (new friends!) and have them shoot photos at the park while your kids frolic around (free portraits!). Let the idiots call the cops, where the law is on our side, and let’s try to get into the newspapers. It might help present another worldview to the frightened sheeple.

    Or… my wife and I can just continue to stay home and mind our own business. “Adults” out there are scary and I don’t want my kids exposed to them. You know… the paranoid morons that make up rules like this? Scary! Run away!

  3. Rich Demanowski July 18, 2009 at 4:54 am #

    Good grief! When will the insanity end?

    I had a similar experience myself, when I was out on the beach a few years ago making these photographs:

    My account of the encounter here:

  4. Rich Demanowski July 18, 2009 at 4:59 am #

    Well said, Corey! Huzzah!

    And furthermore, if a police officer asks you to delete photos, he is way, WAY outside his legal authority. He can arrest you and seize the camera, but even then he can’t delete the photos (destruction of evidence). And if he did arrest you he’d need a pretty imaginative charge since you can legally shoot photos in a public place without harassment.

    That’s precisely why police officers will try to intimidate you into deleting them yourself, “voluntarily”. (They’re specifically trained to do this, in the same way they’re trained intimidate you into “voluntarily” letting them search your car when they pull you over.)

    So… I wonder if some of us free-range types should team up with those photography types and just force the issue more often.

    Anyone in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire is welcome to look me up. I’ll come out and play!

  5. Brad July 18, 2009 at 4:59 am #

    To go with this..
    LONDON – Some of Britain’s leading children’s authors are refusing to do readings in schools because of a new policy requiring them to be registered in a national database and undergo criminal background checks to prove they aren’t sex offenders.

    It’s not just the $104 fee for the police checks that has outraged the authors. It’s the idea that they — and even parents who volunteer in schools — must be declared innocent before being allowed to read to children.

  6. Katie July 18, 2009 at 5:01 am #

    Thanks for saying this, Corey. I’m also a photographer, and I find the idea of forbidding photography in a public space to be outrageous. Luckily I live in a place where people aren’t freaking out about it (yet).

  7. Robin July 18, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    For anyone interested, the British television show Kingdom (a drama-comedy about a lawyer in a Norfolk village) recently did an episode that dealt with this issue – humorously juxtaposing the ubiquity of CCTV with a school’s refusal to let a father videotape his daughter’s school concert.

  8. raymenie July 18, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    I’ve heard rumours of this type of thing but I have to say having lived in both the UK and the US for fairly equal amounts of time over the last 5 years I haven’t come across anything like it. I have often photographed children I am with in public places, including public parks and swimming pools (with a waterproof camera actually in the pool), and come across no complaints, either from officials or from other parents. I have a D-SLR camera so it’s not like people wouldn’t notice me taking the shots.

    I do find the idea of putting everyone who wants to spend even one day volunteering in a school on some kind of national database (and charging £64 for the privilege) completely ridiculous. And at the same time people are complaining that there are not enough volunteers to run their local Scout group or allow their kids to go on school field trips. Hmm, wonder why?

  9. HeatherJ July 18, 2009 at 6:04 am #

    I just found out that our school district is now making it mandatory for “anyone working with children on a regular basis that meets at any school to have a finger print card on file at the district office.” This lovely service is going to cost me $26, just so I can be my daughter’s Girl Scout leader. ‘Cause gosh, I just might be a perv in disguise! Sheesh! That living in a cave thing is looking better everyday…of course that would mean I would have to home school my kids and THAT would be HORRIFIC for all involved! 🙂

  10. kherbert July 18, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    About the pictures. I am glad I live among the sane people. In my district we have an opt out policy. If you don’t want your child on the website or other online project you have to send a letter to the teacher and principal stating your objection. Out of 700+ kids we had 2 opts out last year and they were brothers.

    So much easier that the previous opt in headache that we had a few years ago. I pointed out that we have an opt out policy for giving out contact information for HS students (to military and university recruiters) and that is a lot more intrusive. I guess that or other arguments held the day and the new policy was announce last year.

    I’ve taken pictures of my nieces, nephew, and their cousins in public places. If the kids start playing with another kid we tend to talk to the adult with that kid. (Kids are all under 6 yo).

    Each one of us has been given e-mail address by the other adults and sent them links to the pictures on line. The only person that asked me to not post pictures was a cousin – and the kid in question was a high risk for kidnapping foster child (mom had tried to grab him from a previous foster home). I gave her a flash drive with the pictures on it instead.

  11. Suzanne July 18, 2009 at 6:45 am #

    It’s ironic in the age of Facebook, Twitter and reality TV where people participating are willing to reveal extremely personal information that photography in public places (pools, parks whatever) is looked at with suspicion.

    What on earth are we teaching our kids?

    And, as Rich states, yes, in the U.S. you have a first amendment right to make photographs in public places, and you are well within those rights to refuse a police officer’s request to delete your pictures.

    Or in my case (yes, I’m a dinosaur) destroy film.

    Lighten up on the photography already… we’re going to end up with a whole generation of kids without embarrassing snaps of their childhood that parents can share with future girl/boyfriends.

    Now, that’s a crime.

  12. Patti July 18, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    Having had strange men photograph children at our school I completely understand the police officer who tries to get you to delete the pictures. He/she knows, and I know, that you can take pictures in a public space because you have no expectation of privacy. But he/she also knows that if someone who has never been near a school before shows up, takes pictures, and then RUNS away when calmly approached by another adult that there’s probably a not-so-nice plan in place for the future of those pictures. I’m not advocating bizarre limits on picture taking here, just telling you that weirdness is not unheard of even in my little town (motto: “A Safe and Civil City”).

    I believe people ought to be able to take pictures of their own kids and the kids who are with their kids or in the background. I see nothing wrong with that. Just don’t get mad at the police, simply explain what you are doing and why. Introduce your kids or grandkids. The police will back off in most cases (underneath their body armor most cops are just big softies for kids). If you’re in a private space, well, you’ll have to follow management’s rules even if they are stupid.

    I’m a little surprised that schools make people pay for the privilege of being finger printed or background-checked. I had to go through a training class and a background check in order to volunteer at school, but it was completely free to me. Same for Girl Scouts. I didn’t pay a dime. And it meant I could go visit other schools in the same system without a hassle. The one thing I don’t like is the financial background check, which I don’t understand for volunteers and I opted out of without anyone fussing over it.

  13. DJ July 18, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    I have run into this once. At Sea World San Antonio my father-in-law was told that any photos he took would have to have a family member in it. No general “atmosphere” shots.

  14. Randy July 18, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    I used to dabble in photography myself but in these days of fear and paranoia I’m not sure it would be worth the trouble of getting back into it. An OR lawyer has a very handy and printable “Photographer’s Rights” card that you can print out for reference here:

    Mostly it’s just important to mind your surroundings. If you’re on private property of any kind, the property owner or employees can ask you to leave for any reason, so keep that in mind. Also, in the foolish climate of “post 9-1-1,” in many places it is against the rules to take pictures of buildings, bridges, landmarks and the like. Be careful with that one. But if you’re in a public place like a park, you can pretty much take a picture of anything you care to, including children, and you’re not obligated to explain yourself to anyone.

    Oh, and Patti, I’ve been “approached” several times over the years for taking pictures, usually even when I have a friend or my S.O. with me. Not one of them has been what I would call a “calm” approach. It’s almost always someone yelling and running at me like I’m about to open fire on the crowd. The notion that people are “calm” about this sort of thing is a fallacy, and if they think you’re taking pictures with their kid in the shot they can even be violent.

    To anyone considering taking up photography I’d consider meeting up with folks at a photog. club and avoid going out solo as much as you can. Some of these nuts can be downright dangerous. You might also consider spending the couple hundred bucks it usually takes to get a carry permit; if nothing else you won’t have to feel as threatened when a stranger offers to smash your $10,000 lenses and put you in the hospital.

  15. Stassja July 18, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Along with not being allowed to photograph without receiving undue grief, I get so tired of all the hand-wringing online about posting pictures of your kids, in any state of dress or undress, where any google-happy perv could FIND them. Honestly, while I’m not pleased at the idea of some random pedophile getting his rocks off on pictures of my kids, I don’t see it as due reason to take my pics off the internet. There will still be pics of kids on the internet. Just as normal adult men and women can “undress someone with their eyes” in public, covertly, and have sexual fantasies about them, so could someone do so with my child in mind. Should I never take my kids outside because someone might have bad thoughts about them? What about me? Should I never leave the house for fear of a man or woman fantasizing about my body?


  16. SheWhoPicksUpToys July 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    Okay, can someone explain to me what is even being feared here with this picture thing? So my kid’s picture shows up in the background of a picture that gets posted on the Internet. So the world’s most dangerous pedophile creep looks at the picture. HOW DOES THAT ENDANGER MY CHILD? There’s no identifying information, and my child’s face is visible whenever he goes out in public, so how is “my child’s face being visible to predators” somehow an inherent danger?

    Someone please, PLEASE explain to me what even the most paranoid, fear-driven person thinks there is to fear with this? I’m completely baffled.

  17. ebohlman July 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    SheWho: I think part of it is as Stassja says: fear that someone might masturbate while looking at a picture of their kids (if you’re worried about this, then don’t let your teenage daughters have their pictures in their high school yearbooks; depriving them of an important memento of their youth is a small price to pay to avoid an ick factor) (please note that the last parenthetical was mostly sarcasm). Another part of it, I think, is a persistence of the old superstition that taking or drawing a picture of someone captures a part of their soul, and that’s extended to fit with Predator Panic (some sex-abuse therapists actually argue that if someone masturbates while looking at a picture of a child or teenager, the child is being traumatized as if she were actually being raped; then again, sex-abuse therapists have argued that some of their patients are suffering from sex abuse committed in past lives or by extraterrestrials; Martin Luther King’s quote about the two most dangerous things in the world being sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity comes to mind).

    There’s one objection that I see as fairly legitimate: in the past, if parents took photos of other people’s kids, those photos would stay in the family. Nowadays, they’re likely to be put on the net for all to see. That does involve taking away a measure of control that people have usually had, and parents can have some reasons that I’d respect for wanting to control how their kids are presented to the general public (e.g do you really want your kid’s nosepick to be immortalized? Maybe your kid is looking excessively goofy, or sad, or something like that). It’s sort of the converse of teenagers putting up potentially embarassing or discrediting stuff on social-networking sites and not realizing that it’s available to anyone who wants to check their background. I suspect that there are many parents who wouldn’t mind if you took, or even posted, pictures involving their kids if you asked first; it’s just that they resent having a prerogative taken away from them. After all, controlling how your likeness is persistently presented to others is an important aspect of privacy and autonomy (in fact, my response to “why do you care about being spied on if you have nothing to hide?” is “I don’t want to feel like I’m performing for a mass audience 24/7/365”). The idea that our lives shouldn’t automatically become part of the public record simply because we’ve stepped out of our homes is, IMHO, a worthy one.

  18. Marion July 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    The next step, of course, is the ‘recommendation’ that you put your children in a burka every time they venture out on to the streets. That way no perv can have pervy thoughts about them, let alone take their picture.

    Of course, there will always pervs that kink on burkas, but you can’t have everything…

  19. katenonymous July 18, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    “The next step, of course, is the ‘recommendation’ that you put your children in a burka every time they venture out on to the streets.”

    Let’s name every child “Blanket!”

  20. Stuart July 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    As per usual, this is a case of the real risk of a situation being totally out of line with the perception of the risk.

    Stranger danger is a perfect example of a counter productive message – because by and large strangers *aren’t* the danger, its people you already know.

    I have a game I play in these situations, it’s called “think like a paedophile”. If I wanted to take pictures of children I can think of many ways I do so without arousing any suspicion. I don’t think it’s that difficult – so if I can do it, why couldn’t they? Why waste time on ineffectual measures that serve only to inconvenience people who *obey* the rules? Paedophiles aren’t going to follow the rules – they’re going to circumvent them.

  21. justanotherjen July 18, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    This is just insane and sad. Pretty soon we’ll have whole generations of kids that only have their school portraits to commemorate their childhoods instead of the dozen or so family photo albums (like we have).
    I am conscientious of other people when I take photos of my kids in public places. I try to keep the focus on my children so everything else is blurred. Last December I brought the camera to a Christmas show the kids put on. It ended up being their last day of school before break, having canceled the next day for incoming snow. So while I waited for various kids to get out I snapped pictures of my other children and their friends. I worried some of the parents might thing it wrong but no one said anything to me and the kids begged me to take pictures.

    And as for taking random pictures of crowds…my dad took a photography class in his early 20s (after getting out of Vietnam) and I found some of his photos recently. He went to Grant Park in Chicago and just snapped pictures of the crowd relaxing (and getting high). He said there was always some kind of concert going on. The pictures are great that I have…moments in history preserved forever. How many of these moments are going to just evaporate with the government tightening their grips on what the citizens can do?

    This goes far beyond free range parenting…welcome to 1984, people.

  22. Myriam July 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    I like ebolhman’s reply. As she or he says, there are various elements to these concerns about photos.
    My children aged three and seven were playing at a park recently. I was a few feet away but they were not directly in my view. I left them like that for no more than two or three minutes. My elder son emerged and said he was annoyed because some people had pressured him to have his picture taken. I went to see what had happened and there were two girls and a boy in their late teens/early twenties with a camera. They denied that they had pressured the children and showed me a group picture of them all smiling together. I told them that I didn’t mind, but that if someone said they didn’t want their picture taken they had to respect that. I was interested in my own and my son’s reaction. Especially my son’s. I wondered if he (and I) had internalised some of the hysteria about people taking pictures of children, or whether it was some sort of natural superstition about someone somehow “owning” you by having your picture. Especially a stranger. My son said: “I just didn’t like them having my picture”. Mostly I was amazed that this classic weird “stranger danger” thing had happened in the literally three minutes that I had turned my back. Not so much the picture taking, but feeling pressured into it. Anyway, it was a good opportunity to discuss how to say “no”.

    As far as the swimming pool thing goes, what strikes a chord with me is the hysteria of the reaction, complete with whistle-blowing, hand-waving and shouting. Boy do they like to blow whistles at swimming pools in England. I know that there have to be rules at swimming pools, but I went swimming in Italy last summer and the discrete presence of the life-guards couldn’t be more different, and made it a much more pleasant experience.

  23. SheWhoPicksUpToys July 18, 2009 at 11:42 pm #

    ebohlman — I suspected that first concern was some of it, but that just doesn’t make any sense to me. Of course it’s creepy and disturbing to think that someone would do that with a picture of my child, but in no rational universe does that actually hurt my child any more than if he picked up Parents’ Magazine and did it with a picture of some child there.

    As for the widespread distribution/posting in the Internet thing, I can sort of see that, but if my child is one of a bunch of random children in a public place with little or no connection to the people taking the picture, and is not at all identifiable, having his his head in the background of a picture on the Internet still has no connection to him.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I can sort of understand the “fantasy” reasons why people would fear this, but no actual, rational ones. I have enough trouble dealing with fears of things that actually have a logical relationship to actual dangers, so I just can’t relate to the idea that people would make up things to fear that aren’t even actual dangers.

    The only thing I could see having a rational objection to is the concern that people are taking pictures for the purpose of using them for evil purposes. If some creepy looking person who didn’t seem to have any relationship to any of the kids in the place was hanging around taking pictures, that would bother me. Even then, it wouldn’t actually harm my child if the guy didn’t follow me home, but it certainly isn’t something I’d be comfortable with. But I cannot fathom some fear of what could happen if some other kid’s mom took a picture of her kids and my kids happened to be in it. And rational people, even fearful ones, don’t freak out at moms and dads taking pictures of their kids because sometime, somewhere, some pervert has taken pictures for entirely different reasons.

  24. TheOrganicSister July 19, 2009 at 4:51 am #

    Thanks for linking the article. It was a good one and I used it in my recent blog post.

    It’s so frustrating to be confronted with the absolute absurdity that stems from fear. We’ve been confronted with it several times lately. It’s hard to know how to handle it so that you can continue supporting your child’s autonomy.


  25. Myriam July 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    Absurdity, yes.

    I took a friend’s son to a playgroup recently and I briefly talked on a mobile phone (I was letting my friend know we were there so she would know where to pick her son up, as it happened).

    A nursery worker swooped down on me and said in a sickly patronising tone usually reserved for three-year-olds: “can we avoid using the mobile phone in the nursery please?”.

    Later, trying to work out the reasons for such a policy (radiation? worries that you’re yakking on the phone instead of playing with the little ones). Another thought struck me: are they afraid I’m going to use it take pictures with?

    These things happen so often (here in the UK) that I vowed that from now on I will ask “why?” when someone confronts me with one of these daft policies out of the blue. If they don’t have a good reason, I might just ignore them.

  26. Heather July 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    I totally understand what Stassja said regarding the perceived fear that someone, somewhere, might get sexual pleasure from seeing publicly-posted pictures. I had an ex-friend ream me out once for sharing online pictures of my growing pregnant belly…not only warning me that someone MIGHT decide to masturbate to this, but attacking and blaming me for being an exhibitionist and encouraging it. Um. There are groups of people who apparently self-gratify to pictures of plush toys, or shoes. I know! Let’s ban all IMAGES, so we don’t have to worry about some anonymous person committing a victimless act that we’ll probably never know about anyway! OMG OMG OMG!

    On the kid front, my sister fought fiercely against the hospital’s policy of posting a “first portrait” picture of her newborn on their website. Granted, the whole idea behind that is a consumer trap trying to get you to buy packages of these shots, but the upside is that relatives who can’t travel get to see the little critter. It’s all password-protected and confidential and children are listed by a code number only, with no identifying information, but she got it into her head that some kidnapping perv would cruise this site, select her child, and steal her–either directly from the hospital or by doing further research and showing up at their home later.

    Both of these situations speak directly to the subject of the article in that they are paranoia-driven extremes of What If. As was analogized in a previous recent article, well…what if the kids are sitting on the couch and a meteor comes crashing through the roof? Well it IS a possibility, right? An infinitesimally small possibility, but certainly worth the panic and overprotection, right?

    I have trouble sometimes understanding how, or why, someone would want to live their lives that way…convinced at every turn that the world wishes them harm and that they are in constant danger. I know that many see me as a “lax” parent but I prefer to think of myself as “relaxed”. Risky? Perhaps. But I would rather my kids experience life than be afraid to engage.

  27. singlemom July 19, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    I live in an upstate NY city (roughly 140,000 people). The kids in my neighborhood run around, ride bikes, walk dogs by themselves, walk to and from school and take the bus, etc etc on a regular basis. I’ve seen plenty of people snapping photos and taking video of their kids at the public pool and at tons of other “crowded with kids” locations, and no one bats an eye. I’ve never even heard any other parents mention that the local elementary/middle school kids should be kept inside or hovered over. I’m just wondering… do I really live in such an odd place?

  28. ebohlman July 20, 2009 at 1:24 am #

    Myriam: Again sort of playing devil’s advocate, it’s possible that the reason for banning cell-phone conversations in the nursery is that it doesn’t scale up well; one parent talking isn’t much of a distraction, but several doing it is. Keep in mind that a cell-phone conversation is considerably more distracting than a face-to-face conversation because the human brain has a much easier time “tuning out” continuous sounds than intermittent sounds; each hand-off in a phone conversation tries to grab out attention.

    Heather: There are rare (i.e. one or two per decade in the entire US) cases of newborns being kidnapped from hospitals. The perpetrators are never pedophiles; they’re mentally disturbed women who can’t have kids of their own.

    Why would people want to live their lives that way? It gives them a sense of self-righteousness and in some cases bolsters their religious beliefs (God will protect me from the omnipresent evil of the world; more than a few people have expressed the belief that the reason Lenore’s kid made his subway trip safely was divine intervention). They can rationalize obsessive-compulsive behavior as being more careful (and therefore special) than everyone else. They don’t have to face the fear of doing something new because they can decide it’s unsafe. Camel meat tastes a lot better than gnat meat.

  29. Uly July 20, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    more than a few people have expressed the belief that the reason Lenore’s kid made his subway trip safely was divine intervention

    A truly disgusting attitude. What, those rare cases that kids got hurt were because God didn’t care? God WANTED them to get hurt? (If that’s the case, why bother? If God wants to harm your kid, can you really stop that? And if God can make other people not harm your kid, couldn’t God have made you not let your kid take the train alone anyway?)

  30. Bob Davis July 20, 2009 at 2:42 am #

    The subject of photography in public places has been heavily discussed on railway enthusiast discussion boards. There are some areas (New Jersey seems to be a “hot spot”) where the transit police have been know to harass people taking train photos as part of their hobby. On one occasion, a “rent-a-cop” called the real police department, and the city cop told the security guard to “call us when you have a real problem. This guy (the railfan) isn’t doing anything illegal.”

  31. Heather July 20, 2009 at 4:35 am #

    Heather: There are rare (i.e. one or two per decade in the entire US) cases of newborns being kidnapped from hospitals. The perpetrators are never pedophiles; they’re mentally disturbed women who can’t have kids of their own.

    Oh yes, I realize that. But I truly truly doubt that in those cases, the ease of remote browsing is what opened those children to the risk of abduction, but rather security protocols at the hospital not being followed correctly. I think that connecting an anonymous photo on a password-required site is not a direct risk to infant abduction.

  32. kherbert July 20, 2009 at 5:03 am #

    You reminded me of something. When I was at my last job, we were sharing 1 dial up internet connection that was donated by the local ISP. With permission of my boss I brought my laptop to work, plugged into the phone line and used my dial up.

    A volunteer reported me for having pictures of kids on my laptop – Since all photographs on computers are child p0rn. The picture. Thankfully my boss threatened her with a slander suit and booted her from the office.

    More recently I had a Mom concerned that I wouldn’t instantly know who a child was that popped up on my screen saver. I pointed out that 1) I have pictures of 700 kids from our school on my computer 2) I have 20+ 1st cousin and a larger number of 2nd cousins and we all exchange family pictures online 3)While to someone from her background the description of a child with white hair and blue eyes may sound unusual enough to id right away – my younger cousins could be in a remake of Children of the Dammed without make up or wigs. Also a friend looked at a collage I made once of their photographs and joked that my family must be into cloning because the kids looked like copies of each other. Thankfully the Mom came to me and did not just spread rumors about me around our school.

  33. GoogleGuy July 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    Good to see that people still know what they are talking about. So much BS around these days!

  34. gabster July 20, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    He seemed so very proud and they took that out of him.

  35. runwolf July 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Yes yes, I agree I agree.

    But someone explain why I shouldn’t feel icky about the fact that videos of my exploration into the backwaters of a swamp, showing all sorts of wildlife and interesting tidbits on YouTube is eclipsed by a video of my 4 year old daughter swimming underwater.

    By a factor of 10.

    While I agree that I shouldn’t be overly concerned, it is still kinda disturbing that such a video would be SOOOOO popular, when I told NO ONE of uploading it, yet the videos I do spread the word on aren’t.

    Ah, I’m probably just really that boring.

  36. Lisa July 21, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    What kind of message does this send to our kids about who they are becoming?? If we teach kids that all adults are suspect, how will they feel about becoming adults themselves….!?

    This reminds me a lot of the book Shock Doctrine… stress people out so much that they will comply with anything…good read.

  37. Uly July 21, 2009 at 2:45 am #

    Runwolf, I know a lot of people – people whom I know and trust and whom I don’t think are doing anything untoward with their own kids, let alone anybody else’s – who pass along “cute kid” videos when they see them because cute kids make them smile and they assume public videos are just that – public.

  38. Not a pervert July 23, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    This sort of nonsense is why I’ve focused my photograpy hobby on wildlife. The irony of the situation is that the same tools that let me take pictures of birds without disturbing them would also let me take pictures of your daughter in her swimsuit from a mile away, without you ever knowing I was there.

  39. Sigit Bayu July 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    Nice blog, i like read your article

  40. latecomer September 13, 2009 at 3:44 pm #

    i’m totally late to this blog post but i thought i’d give you my perspective as a photographer. if you live in the us, canada, or uk, you have no right to privacy if you’re outside your home. anyone can take your photograph all they like. there are certain instances where the photo can’t be used or sold or distributed, such as if the photo might be considered damaging to someone’s reputation (i.e. photos of someone being sick in an alleyway and published for profit). doing so can lead to lawsuits. but if it’s just joe blow photographer taking pics of you or your kids, the law favors the photographer, NOT you. if you want privacy go somewhere where a photographer isn’t. photogs aren’t allowed to take pictures inside your home i.e. with a telephoto lens through your windows.

  41. Frank July 3, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    I’m an American teacher and photographer in Italy and the law here is that anyone is allowed (and doesn’t need permission) to photograph or videotape anyone participating in an event in public.

    Permission is only reqiured if you want to publish the images for advertsing, as opposed to editorial/news use. Some parents might object to their kids being photographed or videotaped by strangers, and in that case you are guilty of harassment if you continue. But otherwise the photographs themselves aren’t considered a threat to anyone.

    The laws against child pornography are adequate to make most people feel protected. It seems that in some places people have no faith whatsoever in human decency or law enforcement.