Should You Post Pictures of Your Children Online?

This Monday, June 29 at 10 PM (ET/PT), TNT's hit legal series RAISING THE BAR will follow the case of a father arrested when an innocent photo he posted of his son in the bathtub finds its way onto a child pornography site.

Having seen the episode through a pre-screening DVD, I won't give too much away but will say that the show brings up several powerful questions. To see a preview clip, see my previous post.

In my opinion, one of the most important questions was whether parental lack of judgement can be made criminal – or at least, at what point does it become criminal? There are a lot of parents who don't have a lick of sense and the only way they learn is to be punished by the law when their actions go beyond common wisdom. In this episode, the prosecution screens the jurers with the question, "Would you leave your child in a stroller outside on the sidewalk to go inside and get a cup of coffee, even if you could see the child the whole time through the window?" At what point does that become a criminal offense?

This case purports to be different because the father says he put the picture on the site with no intention of harm to his son. He wanted to share a cute moment with his family and friends but did nothing to password protect the picture or make it private.

Now, I know that when my kids were little, parents lived in fear of film developers catching inappropriate pictures and reporting them. I know I was eternally grateful for digital when I saw that my kids had used the camera to take pictures I wouldn't want ANYONE to see. I quickly deleted all innocently shot pictures taken by children trying to understand their bodies. The body is a fascinating thing but when it is captured on film it opens doors to use the image in ways unacceptable to moral society – as presented in this episode.

In my opinion, taking the picture in an innocent moment wasn't nearly as bad as posting it for the whole world to see. I also know that I kept my own blog anonymous for years so that whatever fears I may have would at least be alleviated by no one knowing where I was or who I was. Many mom bloggers still feel the same way. As I started writing for the local paper, I knew I couldn't hide so I put my name on my blog but reduced how much I actually wrote about my family.

I was also called out by a commentor who said that I seemed willing to share all the details of my life and wondered why I wouldn't share my name. NO DUH, SHERLOCK! I think he answered his own question. If I am sharing all the details of my life, I am not sure I do want people knowing who I am. I made the conscious decision to only share things that I would be willing to represent in person — but I was never really controversial before so things didn't change all that much. If fact, I was convicted of not sharing enough of my convictions online.

The more public I am, through writing, I do wonder about putting up information about where I & my children will be and when. Sometimes I wonder if the "other shoe will drop" since so many fears have been raised among all bloggers about information being used for wrong but now there are so many bloggers doing it – there aren't enough people who care what every one is really doing to do anything about it. That doesn't mean that hearing that someone's house was broken into after twittering he was away doesn't strike fear into all our hearts and remind us to be more cautious.

But, I don't feel this episode is as much about privacy as it is about parental lack of judgement. The man certainly made a poor call to post that picture. Yes, he deserves a parenting class. Is he a criminal? You will have to watch and see what the prosecution delivers into evidence to determine that for yourself! I can't wait to hear your thoughts! Come back here to comment after the show.

Comments

  1. Thought provoking question as the lines of personal and professional as well as the lines of good and bad judgment blur in this world of gray our culture has created.

  2. I’m with you here. I don’t post pictures of my kids on my blog (and not even on Facebook). And I don’t share my last name and city on my blog. My husband, who is very internet savvy, has instilled a healthy amount of caution in me! :)

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