Digital reputation management, safeguarding and photography and the disenfranchised parent.

I picked up on this article in the Graniad from via my twitter timeline.

The long and short of it seems to be that it is awful that schools are stopping parents from taking photos at sports days and school plays and that some schools are profiteering from this – selling DVDs of school plays at £12 a pop.

I added a response to the discussion – which oscillated from bigotry to reason from intransigence to the opposite or intransigence….erm

Here it is:

This isn’t as straight forward as it seems. It’s easy for those of us in safe families with straightforward lives to be non-plussed but the commotion.

One Point to ignore from the debate:

Random photographers shooting in public places place no risk on young children. The debate is not about stopping professional photographers doing their work.

Several points to consider from both sides:

In favour of photos in schools:

1) the knee jerk reaction to the little teds nursery atrocity was to ban cameras. That missed the point, the problem wasn’t the camera, but the person behind the camera.

2) Any pedophile who wanted to get a photograph of your child could do so with a long lens perfectly easily. Banning cameras will not stop this.

Words of caution about photography:

1) In the Facebook age, the only way to control where your image goes is to refuse to have your photo taken. Many children are having a digital footprint laid down on their behalf by their parents without any consideration for the long term impact of foetal scans and every embarrassing moment of childhood being distributed across the web without the permission or control of the subject of those photos. This is an ethical debate about how much say children should have in the control of their digital footprint.

2) Are you happy that other parents might share films and photos of your child and tag them with your child’s name for search engines? If you allow photography in school, you are also allowing this possibility.

3) In some schools there are vulnerable children whose location is concealed from those who may cause them harm. If you allow photography by parents, you make those children vulnerable because of the above reasons …..or you end up excluding them from their school celebrations.  The argument that these children will never end up leaving the house is not the issue.  The issue is that information connects.  A photo with a school name is enough to link place and person and remove the security.  A photo on its own is not enough.  It is the connect information that puts these vulnerable children at risk.

My son has a blog, we use it do discuss his digital footprint and anonymity. He can be traced to a 30 mile radius of a city and identified by the colour of his hair. His face does not appear. Why? It’s his face. He can post it when he is able and well enough informed to decide on the balance of risks that he wishes to.

What is unacceptable is inconsistency from schools.

I arrived in a school recently as a professional and was all but frisked for my phone and told to turn it off. It was a degrading and humiliating experience laden with the implication that I was up to no good. I attended the same school as a parent to see all the parents snapping photos at a class assembly.  That makes no sense.

One thought on “Digital reputation management, safeguarding and photography and the disenfranchised parent.

  1. Pingback: VLE – stuff you need to know | The Grinch Manifesto

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