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Images in the Media

Africa, March 2016, Vol. 81 No. 2

Internet safety for parents and guardians

Sandra Neville

What happens with all the images we now post on social media sites or websites? Do you ever wonder who has access to those images and what are they doing with them? The Internet has become a popular communication tool for children and young people, as well as adults and organisations. Many children and young people and their parents share images of themselves and their friends on social networking websites such as Facebook, Snapchat and on their own blogs and web pages. The accessibility of the Internet and the increasing popularity of social networking sites for both young people and adults has made the sharing and disseminating of images very easy. This has resulted in concerns about the safety and welfare of children and young people online and the protection of their privacy.


Mr Pat McKenna founder of an Irish company promoting digital-based security and privacy for children spoke recently of how innocent images can be misused by certain individuals and said that “many of those that are being bandied about are ordinary social media, party dress type images.”


Such images may be uploaded by people, often unknown, who gained access to them by befriending a teenager on Facebook, or captured them from the video messaging app Snapchat, which is very popular with young girls.


Mr McKenna said while images posted on Snapchat expire after a few seconds, there are websites dedicated to capturing them. “Some of these people go on to trade the identities of the children. A lot of these characters have galleries with thousands of images. There is one guy who started uploading in September 2015 and two weeks later had 17 or 18 galleries, with over 1,200 images,” he said. Mr McKenna went on to say the misuse of images was also a factor in cyberbullying.


Parents and guardians want to be able to celebrate the milestone events and achievements of their children through photographs and recording. And whilst this is great when those images or recordings are for personal private use, greater consideration needs to apply if those images are to be published in newsletters or magazines or posted on websites or social media. 


There have been concerns about the risks posed directly and indirectly to children and young people through the use of photographs on websites and in other publications. Photographs can be used as a means of identifying children when they are accompanied with personal information. It is possible for the content of a photo to be used or adapted inappropriately. 


We here in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, wish to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect children and young people from the inappropriate use of their images in resources and media publications, on the internet and elsewhere. We have developed a policy in relation to the use of images in our publications and on our website ( The following principles guided us in the development of such a policy:


The interests and welfare of the children are paramount. Children and their parents/guardians must provide written consent for their images to be taken and used. Children and their parents have a right to decide whether their photographs are taken and how those images may be used.


We continue to welcome photos for our Noogey pages but to comply with best practice we will be applying some rules therefore affecting the future of how we display your photographs.


Some guidelines:

  • The written consent of parent or guardian must be obtained prior to using the image of the child.

  • Ask the child’s permission to use their image.

  • If the child is identified, avoid using the photograph.

  • Avoid the use of the first name and surname of individuals in a photograph. This reduces the risk of inappropriate attention.

Links: offer advice and information on internet safety to students, parents, schools (staff and pupils) and child protection stakeholders.

Other links are:

Sandra Neville is our Safeguarding Officer based at St Patrick's, Kiltegan. 


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