Valley Grange Supports Resolution to Protect Child Photos and Info

At their August business meeting, Valley Grange members voted unanimously to support a resolution drafted by Publicity Director Walter Boomsma. The resolution asks the National Grange Organization to create policies, procedures and programs that will guide it’s members “in the distribution of photographs and information concerning children who are involved in or attend Grange programs and functions.” Boomsma notes that the resolution does not suggest a specific policy. “This is an area with some controversy,” he explains, “and I certainly do not have all the answers. This resolution is really just asks for help.”

Boomsma believes an important aspect of this for the Grange is whether or not their meetings and events are considered private or public events. “I’ve always followed the model used by schools in complying with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). I’m oversimplifying a bit, but in practice schools differentiate between “private” (a classroom during normal school hours, for example) and “public” (a sports event at the school) settings. A private setting creates the right to expect privacy and a photo cannot be published without parental consent. Public events do not carry the same restriction because there is no ‘right to an expectation of privacy’ in the public setting.”

Boomsma also is quick to point out that Valley Grange has “never had a problem” with using children’s photographs or information. He attributes this to a “cautious and conservative approach” that emphasizes protecting children and parent’s rights. “If I know a parent would prefer their child not receive publicity I’ll withhold it even if something involving that child happens at a public event.” His concern is, he says, “there are a lot of gray areas… and there are a lot of people throughout the Grange organization handling children’s photographs and information who may not fully recognize the hazards and responsibilties accompanying them–particularly when it comes to the Internet and Social Media where the risks are at least different if not greater. Just having this resolution in the system will at least create discussion.”

The resolution will next be considered on September 6th by the Piscataquis Pomona Grange made up of community Granges in the area. Assuming it receives support, the Maine State Grange will consider it at their State Conference in October. Again, assuming it is supported, it then is considered at National Grange Conference in November.

Read the resolution here.

Some additional resources:

An article published by the NY Times in October 2009 reveals a number of incidents where children were endangered or embarassed as a result of photos online.

About Dot Com provides a short discussion of the risks associated with posting children’s photos online and some links to resources and further reading for parents.

WikiPedia Discussion of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)

WikiPedia Discussion of COPA (Children’s Online Protection Act)

Wikipedia Discussion of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)