Respect children’s privacy when photographing dictionary projects

A reader who is a dictionary project sponsor sent a question to the Maine State Grange website about how to handle pictures at a school with very restrictive rules about photographing children. Here is part of the reply, written by Walter Boomsma of Valley Grange.

Since I work with the media and our local school on a number of events, we’ve developed several ways of making sure we comply. For one event in a somewhat controlled area (like a classroom), we will ask the teacher (or office) to assist us by identifying children whose parents have not given permission for photos. This is not usually a long list and it becomes easy to avoid including him or her. (Please be very sensitive to that child or children and not call a lot of attention to the situation.) When the children come to the Grange Hall there are 60-70, and this approach can be challenging. In this case, we ask the teachers to assist by having the kids who can’t be photographed sit somewhat in the same area–we then tell media representatives to avoid photographing or filming that area. Most media representatives will be very aware of this regulation and will appreciate the help!

Make sure any volunteer helpers who are also parents are aware that when they take photos of their own children, there may be others in the background. Be sure they know the school’s privacy policy before taking any pictures.

Another approach is taking creative photos that do not include children who can be recognized: photos of teachers, the dictionaries themselves, photos from behind the children, etc. How about a photo of grangers carrying boxes of dictionaries into the school?

In addition to doing good work, the Words for Thirds program gives us a wonderful opportunity to create a positive image of the grange in our community and with our schools. Working with your school’s teachers and administration will usually result in good solutions!

Walter Boomsma
Webmaster, Maine State Grange
Publicity Director, Valley Grange of Guilford and Piscataquis Pomona