Ask Jack: Should We Prohibit Employees From Taking Images Of Children?

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

Our employees, who work with children, have smart devices. Should we prohibit them from taking images of children?

 

Taking images of children presents risks for any organization that works with children.

First, there is a privacy risk as to the child's likeness, especially if used for organizational purposes. Parents or guardians need to provide written permission before the likeness of a minor is taken for any reason. If permission is provided, the images should be limited to certain specific purposes, once again, approved by parents and/or guardians.

Even if parental/guardian permission is provided, organizations should prohibit employees taking images without seeking organizational permission. An innocent image of students during a school trip does not usually present a problem if the waivers exist, but, unfortunately, the intent of some people is not always innocent.

A New Jersey high school science teacher was recently arrested for taking hundreds of images and videos of students including images looking up the skirts of female students. The teacher would walk around the room taking images of students as well as taking images underneath his desk of female students in the front row. The teacher was charged with endangering the welfare of children, exploitation, invasion of privacy as well as other crimes. https://www.njherald.com/story/news/crime/2022/10/19/sparta-nj-private-school-teacher-criminal-charges-lewd-photos/69574005007/ 

The takeaway is that taking of images of children is more than a boundary violation - there are very real legal implications. Work with an attorney to develop a standard for your organization.

Finally, when an employee is found to be taking images of children without permission, it is also a red flag for employers to investigate.

Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, or Emily Brodzinski to consider for this column, please submit it to ask@mccalmon.com. Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.

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