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The default position now is that all parents are potential paedophiles

By Suzanne Breen

Published 05/05/2015

Today is my seven-year-old daughter's school sports day. But will I be able to take photographs of her as she crosses the finish line with her egg and spoon or topples over in the sack race?

I certainly hope so, but nowadays, you never know. Every click of the camera at a school event is smothered in a cloud of suspicion. The default position is that all parents are potential paedophiles.

It's not abusers who suffer because of these rules, but loving mothers and fathers and their children.

The family album is forever denied all those precious pictures of youngsters winning that race, standing at the altar rails for their First Communion, or singing their heart out in the Christmas play.

Their school years will be just a blank page apart from the coldly clinical pictures taken by the approved school photographer or by busy teachers who haven't the time nor inclination to ensure a decent shot.

We can miss out on capturing the most magical milestones in our children's lives, and that's a shame because they're small for such a short time.

In Northern Ireland, there's no blanket ban on taking photographs in school and church premises but there are ridiculous rules and arbitrary interpretations.

My children's father was forbidden from taking a photograph of our three-year-old in the classroom on her first day at nursery school. He had to give his phone to a member of staff who took the picture. Yet we were allowed to click away freely at the nativity play three months later.

This isn't about safeguarding or protecting children. It's bureaucratic PC hysteria in overdrive. There is no evidence whatsoever that child abusers are stalking school sports days or concerts.

None of these absurd restrictions stop paedophiles accessing images of children. Photographs of youngsters engaging in everyday activities are readily available in newspapers, magazines and online as any cursory glance at social media sites shows.

Our preoccupation with 'bogeymen' is poisoning ordinary adult-child exchanges.

A parent looking through the lens at their child is just that - it's not a potentially sinister situation in need of regulation.

Belfast Telegraph

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