Innocent baby bums?

It seems baby bums have been the talk lately amongst my friends and I lately. It's swimsuit season and we can’t help but love those tight little butts running around. It seems they are the topic among mommas battling on the internet as well, Instagram specifically. Haven’t heard of this? Let me explain what I’ve come across. A group of anonymous people (mommas I suppose) are reporting Instagram users with public profiles who are violating Instagrams terms of service. These violators are  posting inappropriate pictures of their own children. These users profiles are then deleted permanently by Instagram. I understand that inappropriate is defined differently for each mother. Some see bare bums and bare chests as ok, which I believe is where the line gets blurry, but what I really don’t understand is the posting of a fully naked child, genitalia showing for all to see. 

A few months ago I heard a story from a friend that shook me to the core. He arrived home one day to find police cars lining his street with police officers exiting his neighbors home with boxes and boxes in hand. These boxes were filled with pictures of children. Thousands and thousands of pictures of children. Pornagraphic pictures of innocent, young children. A neighbor man whom seemed nice and innocent was living a dark secret in a neighborhood where children played. I had to ask myself; what if I saw one of my children’s photos in the box? Even if my child was fully clothed. I think we all know how I would feel.

Public Instagram profiles are a pedophiles dream. They don’t have to officially follow you to see your photos. While I do not agree with the anonymous mothers tactics to get others kicked off of Instagram (the words and tones they use are beyond harsh, critical and judgmental,) I do appreciate them raising awareness to what may not be such an innocent issue.

As a professional photographer who photographs other peoples children for a living I have literally laid awake at night struggling with putting pictures out there, on the internet. I always, always get consent with parents before posting. There are parents who have said no, they do not want their children anywhere on the internet. I can’t help but respect that.  While I have guidelines for posting pictures of my own children online, I still go back and forth between making my Instagram account public and private. I follow professional photography sites and would love to get noticed for my work, but it’s not worth putting my own kids at risk for my own success.

I write this, not as judgmental, but out of a good heart. As a photographer I feel like this can’t go unsaid. Please if your Instagram profile is public (or if you accept follow requests from strangers) I highly encourage you to ask yourself a few questions before posting pictures.

1.     If my child could give consent, would they mind people seeing this picture?
2.     Does it bring the child embarrassment or shame?
3.     Why am I posting this? For a laugh? Out of pride of having a cute kid? Art?
4.     If I knew a pedophile was looking at this, would I still post it?
5.     Is it worth it?

Our children will be one of the first generations that grows up to teach us the repercussions of our postings on the internet. I don’t know if what I’m doing is good or bad, the right way or wrong way, I’m just trying to navigate this as best as I can. 

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