Thinking of taking pictures of your own children? Think again.

For most of us, having children is an instinct that we’re branded with at birth and become aware of shortly after emerging from our teens. For some it’s sooner, for others much later. Regardless of when we choose to start a family, the instinct is often the same; to love and protect those for whom we care the most.

How many times have you crowed about your child’s latest achievement?  How many times have you stopped and listened to somebody else do the same (and feign interest)?  We can’t help it; if they win, we share it and if they lose, well it wasn’t worth winning anyway. But what if they win and we want a record? Maybe take a picture or hundred, shoot a video perhaps? We all do it, don’t we? Well maybe we used to but not anymore.  Things are definitely changing and not necessarily for the best.

When 9/11 happened, the world was naturally horrified by the senseless loss of life that shocked America into introducing some of the most draconian security measures of our time. Naturally, these focused primarily on airports. I remember it well; shoes removed, laptops x rayed, questions asked, photos taken, fingerprints scanned and bodies frisked. And that was just when you were leaving the country! Fast forward a few years and not much has changed, except for the apathy of airport security personnel who now go about their business with the same enthusiasm of cattle farmers. Gone is the urgency to protect the land of the free from highly flammable baby milk and exploding bacon sandwiches, in its place is growing complacency for a routine which has now become a way of life. Whichever way you play it, the terrorists have won. If anything, the barbarians will go down in history for having changed travelling life as we knew it. Thankfully, we Brits didn’t succumb to the same knee jerk reactions. Well, we did for a while but it all became somewhat ‘inconvenient’ so we focused instead on a much more palpable threat, one that directly threatens our children. Sex offenders are a new breed of terrorist. I haven’t researched the figures but I’d say that they have always been among us although recently they appear to be spawning in far greater numbers. Or is it simply that we’re more aware of them these days thanks to the media? Let’s face it, not many days go by without yet another stomach churning incident that, to anybody who loves a child, is just as devastating as a hijacked plane or a bomb on a bus. Understandably, our government, not unlike the American Senate, wants to be seen as strong and decisive.

 Thus, albeit slowly, we appear to be adopting the same almost fanatical approach to our domestic problems.

Picture the scene; it’s a grey, drizzly Sunday afternoon and you’ve dragged yourself out of bed to take your child to play junior league football. Some if not all of his or her friends are there with their parents. They too have been deprived of precious sleeping time so that they may proudly cheer on their young one as he (or she) valiantly kicks the football around a pitch.  It’s probably the best game of the season, your child’s excited, you’re excited, and it’s one of those priceless moments that you want to keep for posterity. So, you pull out your digital camera and, just as your child is about to score a goal, the camera clicks but you capture a flesh coloured blur. You emerge from the viewfinder to discover that a complete stranger has a hand over your camera lens and is telling you to stop taking pictures, the reason; because they object to you taking photos of their child. Confused, you explain that “I’m taking pictures of my son not yours” whilst secretly thinking, “Who on earth would want to take pictures of your child anyway?” Well, sadly, there are some deviants out there who would. So what has been the reaction of some local authorities? Ban picture taking at school events. Some have gone as far as issuing consent forms to parents asking whether or not they agree to their child being photographed during their school career. So, how easy do you think this will be to administer at school events? “Ok children, all of you with the green forms play over here where the  cameras are and all of your with the red forms play over there.” It’s madness!

You may have no intention of taking pictures of somebody else’s son or daughter but nonetheless, the fledgling Beckhams of tomorrow may inadvertently fall foul of your lens and you might actually commit the crime of boring the pants off unsuspecting houseguests with pictures of your treasure’s junior league football match which, quite shockingly, will feature the rest of the football team! Is this not an extreme reaction to an already sad situation? We’re sending a clear signal to this new breed of terrorism that they no longer have to blow up buildings or crash planes to force us to completely overreact and relinquish not only our freedoms but those of our children. There’s no doubt that our world is changing; the weather, the taste of our food, our lifestyle. Let’s not give the terrorists a helping hand to change the ways in which we enjoy precious quality time with those that matter to us the most.

Originally published in issue 1 of a Different Angle Magazine. 

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