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A SWAT for trying to control others’ photo albums

Submitted by on Thursday, 23 June 2011 No Comment

Somewhere along the line, taking a picture of a child other than your own became equated with peddling kiddy porn.

I’ve been scolded at birthday parties and confronted at school even though my lens was pointed no where near the “concerned” parent’s child and even though I clearly wore a badge that said “volunteer.” That should have tipped him off that I was no wandering perv.

I’ve been careful anyway ever since a story about a father who became persona non grata at school events after he posted a video of his kid’s program. I zoom in as tightly as I can on the guys, but I can’t get close enough or zoom tightly enough to avoid capturing the kids beside them.

If New Jersey lawmakers have their way, that might make me an outlaw. A bill pending there would make it a crime to photograph or record children in situations where “a reasonable parent or guardian would not expect his child to be the subject of such reproduction,” NJ.com reports.

It would be interesting to see their standard of “reasonable parent.” Is it the many parents at any given school who won’t sign releases for their kids to be photographed at all, or is it the rest of us, who realize that the camera isn’t going to steal their souls and a posted picture isn’t going to lead to abduction.

And since that bill hasn’t passed yet, a New Jersey school board is considering a policy “asking” parents to not post online images of children appearing at school functions, a separate NJ.com report says. You better hope your budding actor loves monologues or your athlete specializes in shot put. There shalt be no ensemble or team photos posted! Marching band? Forget about it.

Ay, but it’s all in the name of protecting children. “We’ve had a lot of creeps who show up at these events and take up-skirt photos,” Parry Aftab, executive director of WiredSafety, told NJ.com.

A lot? Really? Quantify that. Break it down by percentage: The number of events where “creeps show up” versus the number of events every year where the worst thing that happens is little Johnny forgetting the words to the song. Shame on the reporter for not asking for that.

Yes, there was a reported incident in New Jersey last summer that involved a 63-year-old man taping children at a swim meet. Revolting? Yes. A trend? Hardly.

I am all for laws such as the one Florida enacted in 2007. It increased penalties for cybercrimes and closed gaps in existing law. It focuses on punishing offenders, not on criminalizing parents.

If New Jersey wants to take real steps to protect children, it should look at Florida’s example. Meanwhile, officials need to Stop Wasting America’s Time by pushing intrusive laws and “requests” that will feed paranoia but do nothing to protect children.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.




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