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Should nativity photography be banned?

Pete 19 18.8k 97 England
17 Dec 2002 1:52PM
Here's a story that was on the BBC news pages a few weeks ago. I've only just spotted it and the radio stations are currently debating the issue:
A school in Bedfordshire has banned video cameras from its nativity play, because it's worried that the images may get into the hands of paedophiles
Head teacher at Sundon Lower School, Sue Stokes, has told parents in a letter that she is worried that photographs might get into the wrong hands.

On Thursday, Miss Stokes said she did not want to comment on this and referred inquiries to Bedfordshire County Council.
The school sent a letter to parents
But the council told the BBC it is a matter for the school to manage locally.
Miss Stokes says in the letter: "This year a great deal of publicity has been centred on the issue of child protection and for this very reason videotaping the performance will not be allowed.
"This also applies to photographs being taken with a digital camera."
Richard Stay, Bedfordshire County councillor, criticised the ban.
"It is a ridiculous decision," he said.
"It is political correctness gone mad. As a father of a two-and-a-half-year-old child I would be concerned if it was my child's school.
"I think it is absolutely potty."
When will it end? What are your views?
nminers 18 143 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2002 2:26PM
It's a complete over-reaction. I should think the children's parents can be trusted to control where their photographs/videos end up.

You might as well ban children from going outside during the day time as who knows who could be waiting with a camera round the next corner?

The parents concerned should simply boycott the school play in protest.
sinargee 18 245
17 Dec 2002 2:31PM

This very question was raised in one of our forums I forget by who. I and several others tried to answer it, along the lines that really the consent of the parents should be sought, either by the head teacher in the form of a signed consent letter. Others thought our replies were way over the top, apparently not !!

Although a school nativity play or any other performance by young children isn't sexually motivated in content, who knows how paedophiles use or interpret such pictures.

I know its a sad and sick world we live in and it is difficult to see how we can get the balance right, how do you distinguish between a legitimate photographer and one with more sinister intentions before any child is put at risk. This not only means physical harm but innocent looking pictures can be manipulated in programs such as photoshop to look very different, even if the parents or child don't realise this as been done it surely is still abuse.

In conclusion, a school is in effect private property and the head is resposible for the well being of her pupils, if she says no I am afraid the answer is no.

mad-dogs 18 2.2k England
17 Dec 2002 3:52PM
If people sit up and take notice, you will see that men ( fathers ) are villified daily in the media and this is just more anti-male propaganda.

Nearly every program now mentions domestic violence against women, when in fact the rates are equal per sex.

Our freedoms are eroded daily and most people do not take any notice nor act upon it.

A bit off-topic for a photographic forum but its effects are slowly being felt by its members.


Pressman 19 88
17 Dec 2002 6:27PM
A sad fact of the times in this age of political correctness.I wonder how this affects the local press photographer doing his usual seasonal job.
Little Jo 19 2.3k United Kingdom
17 Dec 2002 6:44PM
Blame our compensation culture, the new rules are being applied by schools because the authorities are scared of being sued if pics do get into the wrong hands. Even local authorities can't use real local children in brochures for council services - they must be child models and must be wearing proper clothes, so no sports or swim wear! Today's news is rather stark, with lots of arrests following a tip-off from US authorities on the credit card details of folk accessing dodgey sites in the US.

The age of innocence has gone. The media spotlight is on child abusers and the recent deaths of Holly and Jessica from Soham haven't helped. Digital technologies and the internet have made the distribution of illicit images so much easier.

It's 'photographer beware'. We as photographers must take responsibility by acting sensitively and responsibly. I think the measures do go OTT and right off every adult as a potential pervert, but unfortunately these people don't walk around with warnings on their tee-shirts. They are often otherwise law-abiding, well respected members of our communities.

You can't be too careful.

mad-dogs 18 2.2k England
17 Dec 2002 7:13PM
I was investigated by the child protection squad of the local plod because I took photos of the children at my daughters birthday party.

The children were all given copies of the photos. The mothers are paranoid because of all the anti male media. The children were safer with me than with many of their parents - I campaign for childrens rights each day from dawn untill dusk.

Don't believe what you read in the media either - the media is controlled and you only read what they want you to read in order to give you your opinion.

mad-dogs 18 2.2k England
17 Dec 2002 7:21PM
The latest news from Annanova:

School video 'ban' suspended

Council bosses have suspended controversial guidelines on filming in schools.

It follows claims by parents that they were being banned from photographing or videotaping their children's nativity plays.

Edinburgh City Council shelved the directive after a parent threatened legal action against the authority and opposition groups labelled the episode a "public relations disaster".
J-P 18 396
17 Dec 2002 7:26PM
Criminologists are very often reminding us that the fear of crime is a greater source of stress/anviety than the reality of crime and here is an excellent example.

Although the school may have acted with the childrens interest at heart, it can only serve to create needless worry that a paedophile is amongst the parents somewhere.

Presumably in a nativity all children are fully clothed so what has a pervert got to gain ?

I shoot stock for a library specialising in pics of children. I would only use my own kids or those of close family/friends for fear of being thought of a pervert. Sign of the times.
Stan. L-B 19 222 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2002 8:01PM
Again it is the over reaction to the latest news trend. Nothing new in this revelation as social history will testify. However, it is good that the apethetic public be made aware of these sordid problems. Over the years I supported, and as the photographer,won the coveted Miss Pears award.
It was not so long ago, there was never any hint of suspicion that it may in any way be allied to any unlawful act. It can only be that the public are getting the rewards of their non diligent
attitude towards assaults on children over the past years. The very real concern was brought home to me, when my wife suggested that I no longer display any child pictures on this or any other site. There is a lot of hot air put about by those advocating 'liberty of the subject' Just what liberty are these people talking about?. These child molesters should be taken out of society for good; and their genes with them!
bppowell 19 2.2k 2 England
17 Dec 2002 10:23PM
I wonder how many of these schools that are stopping you from recording or taking photographs are willing to sell you one taken by someone they have instructed to be their official photographer? Call me cynical if you like but I have seen this happen.

SuziBlue 18 16.2k 10 Scotland
18 Dec 2002 12:33AM
I heard the latest report this morning and thought well yes. Local school, local people, too many horror stories for them not to be cautious or concerned.
But then what? Does one ban showing kids on TV or in magazines or on street posters - whether they're young actors or not ...? Stop them from playing in public areas where some sickos might be taking pictures for their own use?
People say 'it wasn't like this in my day,' but there never was a Golden Age of innocence. It just seemed that way because the stark reality never got the coverage it does today and too many people turned a blind eye to what they thought was none of their business. So this feels like a period of transition ... part of the shift ... people have to test the boundaries of what's sensible to protect our children and what's paranoia. And it's not up to any one person or group of people to decide, after all, because we need as a society to come up with sensible ways of protecting them, and the fact that the whole issue is being unravelled and argued about and fought over has to be a good thing even though it throws up difficult issues and problems.
It also means that we don't look the other way any more.
Big Bri 19 16.7k United Kingdom
18 Dec 2002 9:12AM
I have photographed my daughter and her friends at her ballet class along with all the other parents and as they were snapping/filming I didn't think it was a problem until my C&G tutor said "never photograph children without the consent of the parent or guardian". This is not a moral issue, it is just good sense as you can end up in a world of trouble.
When I photographed the Hungerford Young Performers show on Monday night (5-8 yr olds) I did so with a signed form from every parent giving me permission. Not one of them thought it odd that they were asked to do this.
At my daughter's nativity play at the school (she is 6) I specifically asked the head and she had no problem with it. In this case, the head is the responsible person, so I didn't need to worry about individual parents.

The one thing that struck me as really odd though about the school that had the ban, was that they had only banned digital and video photography, NOT traditional, supposedly because digital photos can be sent over the internet. Have they not heard of scanners ?
mad-dogs 18 2.2k England
18 Dec 2002 10:40AM
From The Guardian ... and in a similar vein to the current debate.

Is it art or is it child porn? Why gallery faces prosecution over picture of a girl in the bath

Guardian Article


J-P 18 396
18 Dec 2002 10:55AM
Good article, the

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