Brace yourself for a very uncomfortable fact: It’s not illegal for strangers to take photos of your kids, unless they’re naked.
That’s according to Kylie Pappalardo, a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology's School of Law who told the ABC that Australians don’t have any personal privacy rights.
"We have data privacy rights, there's a privacy act that governs what companies can collect about say your financial information or health information. But there's no right to say 'This is my privacy, do not take a photo of me',” Kylie said.
There are two legal exceptions to this rule, according to Kylie:
- The photo is compromising your child, ie. they are naked
- The person taking the photo is trespassing on your property
"Unless, as police say … it's getting into questionable territory … there are very strict laws around child exploitation which is another story,” Kylie told the ABC.
Parents need to create their own boundaries
Understanding the limits on the legal side of photographs makes it even more important for parents to develop our own system of protection - particularly when you consider our general obsession with social media.
In an article for Market Watch, Quentin Fotrell quoted a 2016 UK study by The Parent Zone that found "the average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he/she turns five; with 53 % of those photos posted to Facebook every year. "
Kinderling Conversation host and mother of two, Shevonne Hunt, said she’s never been 100% comfortable with posting photos of her kids online.
“I struggle with finding the line with what’s OK to post and not. If my kids tell me not to post the photo I never do… The one clear line in the sand for me has been anything that reveals where they are geographically, like school uniforms or the front our house,” she said.
Take care: Kids copy our behaviour
According to Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard school of psychiatry research associate, these are two of the most important areas for parents to adhere to. In her book, “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age” she says that when it comes to social media (and most other behaviour) “our children will do what we do”.
“Kids should have veto power over the pictures we take and post on social media,” Catherine said. “We need to teach children the message that we own our body and we own our image and ask questions like, ‘Would you mind me sending it to grandma or grandpa?”
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