#Human Rights
Prime Minister
United Kingdom

"Stand ready to challenge any schools or councils that say 'bah, humbug' to a bit of festive fun."

I didn't write the above headline, it was said by the UK government's Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.The full quote is: ""Armed with our guidance, parents should feel free to snap away this Christmas and stand ready to challenge any schools or councils that say 'bah, humbug' to a bit of festive fun."

It remains to be seen whether or not this official response will finally end the annual spate of incidents where frustrated parents are bullied into not recording their children performing in school plays by condescending school staff.

Data Protection Act. The reasons given by a very small number of schools for banning photography and video recording by parents at school performances have varied, but Commissioner Graham was responding specifically to the excuse that schools were taking action to avoid breaching the Data Protection Act, for which Graham is the official watchdog.

A number of schools had argued that as adopted and fostered children were in their care during school time, that they risked breaching the Data Protection Act by permitting parents from photographing their own children at school. Commissioner Graham has unequivocally stated that schools do not risk breaching the Data Protection Act in this way. He said: "Having a child perform at a school play or a festive concert is a very proud moment for parents and is understandably a memory that many want to capture on camera. It is disappointing to hear that the myth that such photos are forbidden by the Data Protection Act still prevails in some schools."
Common sense

He added: "A common sense approach is needed. Clearly, photographs simply taken for a family album are exempt from data protection laws."

Threat of arrest. Most of us may wonder what all the fuss is about as we have not experienced such narrow-minded impositions at the schools of our own children. But only recently news emerged of a parent who, in 2007, was threatened with arrest by police as he arrived at his daughter's school if he proceeded to break the school's ban on photography at a nativity play. The same school in Leicestershire still has the ban in place, although photographs can be taken after the performance is completed.

The school's head defended the ban, which was brought in at the request of some parents who didn't want their children photographed, and claimed that it accommodated both these parents and those who did want to take photos. The question has to be asked, if you don't want your children photographed at events like this, why? Indeed, why allow your children to be seen be other parents full stop?

Copyright. A few years ago there was a suggestion that video recording and still photography would be banned during a play being performed at the primary school our children attended. It was only a concern about copyright because the school had licensed a commercially supplied play. But by seeking clarification from the publishers of the play it was clear that photographs or recording made for personal, non-commercial, viewing, did not constitute a breach of copyright.

Official school guidance is that photography during school plays should be permitted. If there are genuine concerns from parents about the security of their children in the face of an audience of parents snapping their own kids during the Christmas nativity play, then it's that problem that needs to be addressed. Banning cameras is certainly not the answer, and it looks like that's now official.

Every time I want to film or photograph my kids, whether its at the school athletics or if they are performing on a stage you are told you cant! Why not?? It's not like there are other kids walking around in skimpy costumes or naked, this is absolutely pathetic!

We should be able to capture and keep these precious moments forever, without the fear of being stigmatized and frowned upon like we are some sort of paedophile.

I am starting a campaign as we will have no memories of our children when they get older.

Even when you do film or photograph other people look at you as if your some sort of threat. I think that we should challenge all schools and authorities who prevent us recording these precious memories of our loved ones.

Please sign our petition if you want to have your "denied memories" restored!

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The I Should Be Allowed To Photograph & Video My Kids petition to Prime Minister was written by Colin James and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.