Guidance on sharing images
Seeking consent to share images of children and young people
When is consent needed?
Children should always be consulted about the use of their image and give consent to it being used and shared.
For young people under 16, you should also get parental consent to use an image.
In situations where under 16s are separated from their parents (for example if they are in care) you should seek consent from someone who holds parental responsibility (for example the child’s carer or the local authority).
For 16- to 17-year-olds, you should decide if it's appropriate to obtain parental consent, depending on the activity and the young person’s circumstances. If you decide you do not need parental consent, then consider whether you should still inform parents that the child’s photograph is being shared. In most circumstances, parents have a legal parental responsibility for their children up to the age of 18.
How to get consent
Make sure children, young people, their parents and carers understand what they are agreeing to.
- Make them aware that a photo or video is being taken.
- Explain what the image is going to be used for.
- Ask for their consent to share their image and record this on a written consent form.
- Tell them how long their consent is valid for and how long you will keep the image for.
- Explain what you will do if a child or their parents change their mind and withdraw consent at a later stage.
- Make it clear that if a child’s image has been used online or in printed publications it will be very difficult to recall it if consent is withdrawn.
Keep a record of the written consent that parents, carers and children have given for images being used.
It’s good practice to share your photography policy with children and parents and seek their consent at the beginning of the year. You may also need to get additional consent in specific circumstances (if for instance, you are bringing in a professional photographer or the photos might appear in the local or national media).
> Download our example photography and filming consent form (PDF)
Advising parents or carers about sharing images of children on social media
There is no law against taking photos at public events, including of other people’s children (Ask the Police, 2018).
But your photography policy statement should make it clear that parents or carers should gain permission before sharing photographs or videos of other people’s children on social media.
Consider asking parents not to share any pictures or videos of events and activities on social media, where other people’s children can be identified. Explain how sharing images in this way could place some children and families at risk.
Your photography and filming policy statement should include a section on how you will set out your expectations for parents, carers and family members who want to take photos and videos for personal use.
> Download our example photography and filming policy statement (PDF)
Advise parents or carers who want to share pictures or videos of their own children on social media to make sure they understand who else will be able to view images of their child.
Suggest that parents or carers use their privacy settings to make sure only their friends can see their profile and photos, and that geo-location settings are not shared. Before posting a picture, parents or carers can also make sure there isn’t anything that would allow a location or identity to be recognised, such as school logos or signs, road names, or names of clubs that their child attends.
Encourage parents to ask for children’s permission before posting a picture or video of them online. With very young children and babies, this will not be possible but parents and carers should consider the long-term implications of sharing an image before making it public.
You could run an information session for parents on online safety, which may include information about sharing images online.
> Find out more about preventing online abuse