Further to the case of mothers whose children’s faces were blacked out in school records (for ‘child protection’ reasons), I’ve just been sent this email by a father from the north of England, who is experiencing a similar problem. He makes extremely valuable points about the futility of these photo-ban policies, which do nothing to protect children and merely ruin their memories and records of their school life.
These are extracts from a letter he wrote to school authorities:
‘Whilst it is great to have such a record of my child’s time at school, it is the fact that you feel it necessary to black out children’s faces on the photographs that devalues and spoils it as a momento. I struggle to understand why you have made the children in the photographs look as if they are criminals in one of these reality TV ‘cop’ shows. I hate to think that my child’s image in other children’s books has been treated like this. I know from our previous correspondence that you have two concerns regarding the taking of pupils’ photographs: child protection re paedophilia; and children in witness protection.
· Child Protection re Paedophilia – as I have said in previous e-mails, most experts in paedophilic offenders say that there is no evidence to suggest that these types of offenders use images of children, particularly background images, from events such as school plays, sports days, etc. The sad reality is that they have a much easier access to pornographic images via the internet to download than the complex image manipulation it would take to create something out of school photographs.
Given that these photo albums are for the parents and family of each individual child, I would like to understand your thinking behind your policy for blacking out the faces. Is your initial stance that all parents are potential paedophiles and must be treated as such (I guess in the same way that radical feminists state that all men are potential rapists)?
· Children in Witness Protection – I assume that each teacher knows which children in her class are part of such a scheme or where their parents object to photographs of their children being taken. This should not therefore be an issue. Surely it is not difficult to either make sure that when a photograph is being taken to use in this category is not in the background or, alternatively, check the photo before it is put in to make sure they are not. It therefore is no longer a problem.
You have previously promised to review your policy towards the photographing of our children but as yet I see no change. In fact, the blacking out of children’s faces suggests to me that you have become even more entrenched in your policy. Are you likely to review this policy again? I again want to register my extreme objection to this policy and ask that you inform the Governors of this and have it minuted in the next meeting.’