What You Need To Know About Posting Photos of Kids

What You Need To Know About Posting Photos of Kids
October 6, 2015 Nils Smith
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It happens all the time. An excited Children’s Ministry Director uploads photos to the church website of kids having a great time in their church programs. It helps promote the ministry, right?

While social media is a great tool for marketing ministry there are protocols that you need to know. Simply stated, you cannot post pictures or videos of minors without parental permission. Whether you are a small church or a very large ministry, this applies to everyone!

Legally, you cannot show any “recognizable” photo of a child, which means that you can post a photo from the back of a head or if their face is blurred. The best practice is always to protect yourself and the children in your ministry by having written permission from the parents of every minor whose picture you might show on your website or on any social network.

At Community Bible Church, San Antonio, Texas, we include this on the back of our first-time registration forms for children and double-check that we have it on file before posting any photo online. It is also a good practice to renew this release form on an annual basis with each minor involved in your ministry.

Here’s an example of a simple media release that you might consider using:

I hereby grant permission for [church or ministry name] to record pictures or videos of my child [minor’s name] while on the church property or at a church-sponsored event. I also give permission to [church or ministry name] to use these images or videos in church print and online publications including church websites and social networks. 

 

[Editor’s Note:  Nils will be part of the teaching team at the eConnect Conference at Group Publishing, November 4-6, 2015. This event will help you learn more about using online tools and social ministry to grow your church. For more information, click here.]

 

6 Comments

  1. Matt Norman 6 years ago

    I’d love to know where your information comes from. I don’t intend to argue, I really want to know what the law actually says. As I understand it church events are public. As such there is no expectation of privacy. For this reason pictures and recordings can be made and posted. In the same way that sports teams can post pictures or videos of the children attending the games. I’ve been to a number of sports events and never signed a waver allowing them to post pictures of my kids.

    Again, I don’t intend to argue, but I would like to know where the information comes from.

  2. Joe Bridger 6 years ago

    Nils,

    Can you please forward me the legal articles or examples that prove your statement to be accurate: “Legally, you cannot show any “recognizable” photo of a child, which means that you can post a photo from the back of a head or if their face is blurred. The best practice is always to protect yourself and the children in your ministry by having written permission from the parents of every minor whose picture you might show on your website or on any social network.”

    Cause I have yet in my research to see this established in a single church across the country via their insurance company. I also have yet to hear of a single church that has been held accountable legally for posting “recognizable” pictures of children in church through a court of law.
    I have been told by insurers and denominations the complete opposite. That a church is in fact a public place and so anything that goes on in a church that is captured through photography or video and posted to their social media sites is unable (at this time) to be held against a church, or can in any way hold a church liable, no more than if you were in a public park or a public celebration and caught someone doing something heinous on video. The person recording or organization recording cannot be held liable because church is not a private place but a public place. I see that you are the social media pastor. So I’m wondering where your research is coming from since I have heard the opposite from both insurers and my denominational legal council. I understand the value attached to taking the extra step to keep your church far far away from liability. But I want to know where the actual research is coming from the substantiate this idea as it is in conflict with authorities I have spoken with on the matter.

    • Bob D'Ambrosio 6 years ago

      Here is some information for clarification from Eric Spacek with the Risk Management & Loss Control department of Guide One Insurance: “This best practice is based upon potential (common-law) legal liability for invasion of privacy. There is a federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) but unless the church’s posting include personal information (i.e., name, address, phone number, email), then COPPA does not come into play. Still, a person ‘owns’ their own image, so using that image without their permission could open the church up for liability. That is why the consent/authorization is recommended. One caveat: while the federal COPPA may not govern the situation, there’s always the possibility that a particular state has enacted a law that might, so one would need to be cognizant of any applicable state statutes”.

  3. Beth 6 years ago

    Although I would agree that it is best practice to not post pictures, I have not heard of a law that says you cannot post pictures or videos of minors without parental permission. Can you tell me what the law is?

    • Bob D'Ambrosio 6 years ago

      Laws vary by state but generally they fall under the child protection guidelines for safety.

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