Should It Be Illegal to Take Photos of Other Kids?


I live far away from all family since my husband is in the Navy (though we move home next month! SQUEE!). My parents and sister are Facebook users, like me, so I share tons of pictures and videos and day-to-day stuff so my family can feel more connected.

My son's kindergarten class picture came in, and I dutifully scanned it, cropped out the names of his classmates, and then posted it. I also posted pictures from a park where my son played, with other kids. Immediately I was warned that some parents might be angry that I had put their children's picture on the Internet. I was baffled. Really? A picture, with no name? WHY?

But thanks to a bill considered in New Jersey, just taking pictures of kids who happen to be near my son could be considered illegal.

I don't get the big deal about photos of kids being posted or taken. I figure I'm in the background and so are my kids on strangers' photos of playgrounds, too. And yes, I've had my photos stolen and used as a fake profile, but aside from being pathetic, it's not like it hurt me or my kiddo. But this bill proposed in New Jersey (A3297) would make this all totally illegal ... illegal to photograph kids at a park, or video them.

Now, the reason is because they want to prevent pedophiles from photographing or filming minors, since even an old man filming a girl's swim meet with gross intentions can't really be charged with more than petty disorderly conduct, but the fact is that imposing the law would punish people like ME. Even newspapers would be required to have permission of every single person in a photo, even if they're just in the background, meaning if this picture was your kid's swim meet, for example, you'd need permission from the parent of every child there or you could potentially be charged.

Yeah, good luck with that. No more public rally photos, either, I'd assume.

Not only would it be illegal, but it'd be a third degree crime, which means a sentence of one to five years in prison if convicted. Seriously?

Fortunately, they skipped the vote entirely since it was called "ridiculous," was an obvious overstep into the realm of freedom of speech (or expression), and was way too broad and would hurt people like me who obviously have no sick intentions in my photography. The current language says what would be illegal would be a photo that "a reasonable parent or guardian would not expect his child to be the subject of such reproduction."

But what is "reasonable"?

The revised bill should make it clear that this is only to focus on people of a predatory nature, says an assembly woman. But how can you determine intention? The law has a good heart, but will be hard to make clear.

How do you think the law should read, if there is one at all?


Images via aechempati/Flickr; klitzegroß/Flickr

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jpfsmom jpfsmom

It's funny, a few weeks ago I was at mom and tots storytime and my ds accidentally into a picture a woman I didn't know was taking of her daughter and her friends, it was cute, my son was smiling and she laughed and I laughed, no harm no foul, she has this strange little boy in her picture forever and she may have put it on FB who knows but I don't care, I'm not a paranoid freak. I think what is happening is we are becoming an "entitled" society that gets sue happy become somehow their rights have been violated...if you feel strongly about it, don't leave the house.

Neegee Neegee

that is riduculous! I just posted my son's concert at school. There is not way it can be illegal if its posted on a private account on FB. The Kids are in public.

Rebec... Rebeccalynn_dj

Interesting topic Christie.  I have always been torn on the issue.  You know I am snap happy and anyone near my children may get caught.  I don't use anyone else's kids names without their permission and always try to tag them. 

In general though I figure that if the parent is participating in the raising of their children they will see me with my camera.  If they had some problem with me taking or posting the picture they would say something.(ie a psycho ex or a cousin pedophile)

Either way if your allow your kids to participate in things like group photos then you don't have a leg to stand on for their picture being posted. 

 I think there is a happy medium though.  I think maybe a law should include if that person's child, friend, relative is in the photo and the other kids pose or are caught in the background...then it is asking too much to not have someone post it.

Xakana Xakana

I agree--ridiculous. No more pics in parks? No more pics in PUBLIC, basically? Um, no. What a boring set of albums that would create!

nonmember avatar cakedots

Love this article. It hits on something I've been dealing with recently. My 3 year old son takes gymnastics at the local Y. The YMCA has a rule that prohibts photos/videos without written consent of the manager of the facility. Anyway, I'm a little conflicted, I wish I could take pictures of my son in class, but there are for example toddler girls in leotards etc (the boys all wear pants and shirts) and considering the fear/threat of pedophiles and child exploitation I understand the restriction and get it. I think a law a little like this would be beneficial, maybe restricting camaras/videos at gymnastic/pagents/swim meets/public pools. Places that children congregate in swim suits, leotards etc. It's sad that we have to consider stuff like this, but it would be horrifying to find out a sick individual was hoarding pictures of your children. The law as mentioned in the article does seem excessive, but I don't think the idea of prevention behind it should be disregarded.

Jocelyn Lequier-Jobin

Totally agree as well.  People get way too worked up about this. 


BabyW... BabyWillowsMama

That is seriously effed up. These people need to get a hobby and quit being so controlling of everything...

BabyW... BabyWillowsMama

Neegee, that is a realy good point. Good call.

nonmember avatar mamabear

Here's the thing, there is a whole network of "nonude" sites online. Pictures of underage children not nude but apprently (I haven't seen it) somehow explicit. I'd bet some of the content comes from public places. There's nothing wrong with trying to prevent children from being exploited this way. I would forgo taking pictures of my child at the park if it meant that no child would be abused like this.

Lynette Lynette

Before posting any pictures that have other people's kids in I make sure to ask the parent first.  Or I check to see if they already have pictures posted of their kids on facebook.  I understand that some people don't want their kids picture posted online.

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