It’s election time and it’s not unlikely another one is possible next year as well! As elections ever more become social media battles, PPCs promote themselves to anybody who has a pulse and is willing to fake a smile. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at guidance regarding safeguarding and the sharing of images of children online.
This isn’t about if you should share pictures of children online, but if you are interested in that, The Independent covered it here.
The following piece was inspired by a social media post by Rehman Chishti MP. The editing, as will become clear, is by us.
What is child protection and safeguarding?
Child protection and safeguarding means protecting children from abuse, and identifying and stopping abuse that is already happening.
Abuse of a child or young person under the age of 18 is defined as follows:
- Abuse is a deliberate act of ill-treatment that can harm or is likely to harm a child or young person’s safety, well-being and development. Abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional.
- Neglect of a child or young person also constitutes abuse and can be defined as failing to provide or secure for a child or young person the basic needs of physical safety and well-being.
The NSPCC say it’s important that children and young people feel happy with their photographs of special moments, and surely being with a candidate for Parliament counts as a special moment. However; some, may not be comfortable with themselves being shared. For example, if they have experienced abuse, or do not have contact with members of their family. But swept in the moment of the charismatic politician they may not be able curtail a big smile to verbalise this concern.
People should also consider the data protection implications of making, using and storing images of children and young people.
Risks of sharing images online
Sharing photographs and images of children on social media or other online platforms carries potential risks. For example:
- children may become vulnerable to grooming if a photograph is shared alongside information that makes them identifiable. This includes: personal details; a tag with location information; visual details such as a school uniform
- inappropriate images of children may be shared online
- images may be copied, downloaded, screenshotted or shared by anyone
- images of children may be adapted and used inappropriately
- photos or videos may appear in internet search results
- depending on the terms and conditions of using an online platform, the image may be owned by the platform once it’s been posted. Platforms may then license images for use by third parties – such as for commercial purposes
- each photo or video, and any comments on them, become a part of a child’s public image. This may affect them later in life – for example, it may affect how they see themselves, or how they are viewed when applying for a job
Before sharing images of children on social media, adults should consider how widely images may be shared, how long they may remain available and how this may affect the children’s long-term wellbeing.
Guidance on sharing images
Most importantly, one should always seek consent to share images of children and young people.
When is consent needed?
Children should always be consulted about the use of their image and give consent to it being used and shared.
For young people under 16, you should also get parental consent to use an image.
How to get consent
Make sure children, young people, their parents and carers understand what they are agreeing to.
- Make them aware that a photo or video is being taken.
- Explain what the image is going to be used for.
- Ask for their consent to share their image and record this on a written consent form.
- Tell them how long their consent is valid for and how long you will keep the image for.
- Explain what you will do if a child or their parents change their mind and withdraw consent at a later stage.
- Make it clear that if a child’s image has been used online or in printed publications it will be very difficult to recall it if consent is withdrawn.
Keep a record of the written consent that parents, carers and children have given for images being used.
We contacted emailed Rehman Chishti for clarification that all best practice was being followed in relation to these issues, but sadly no response was forthcoming.