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Using images of children on websites

Many parishes and/or church organisations include pictures of individuals or groups engaging in some form of parish or organisational activity on their web sites. Like ordinary photographs, pictures with people in them are much more interesting than images of buildings or even high–tech computer graphics!

Including images of children on web sites can be motivating for the youngsters involved and provide a good opportunity to promote the work of the parish or organisation. However it is important to balance the design principles of creating colourful, attractive and relevant pages on a web site against the potential risks of including images of children on the site.

Parishes, church organisations and especially schools need to develop a policy in relation to the use of images of children on their web site. When assessing the potential risks in the use of such images, the most important factor is the potential of inappropriate use of images of children.

Providing the name and photograph of a child on a web site allows for the possibility of strangers identifying and then contacting pupils directly. Avoiding the use of images of named individuals therefore reduces the risk of unsolicited attention.

Avoid the use of the firstname and surname of individuals in a photograph. This reduces the risk of inappropriate, unsolicited attention. An easy rule to remember is:

  • If any child is named, avoid using their photograph.
  • If the photograph is used, avoid naming the child or children.

Other considerations:

  • Only use images of children in suitable dress to reduce the risk of inappropriate use.
  • Create a recognised procedure for reporting the use of inappropriate images to reduce the risks to children.
  • In general it is good policy that no close–up pictures of individual children should be used. General shots of group activities can be used but these should never be captioned with the children’s names.

Personal details of children such as e–mail addresses, home addresses and telephone numbers should never be revealed on the web site.

A search of the web will also find more information on this topic.

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