A COUNTY Limerick mother of three has criticised a county disco for posting photographs of under-age disco-goers on Facebook.
“They have no parental consent to take the photographs in the first place,”| she pointed out, “and they have no parental consent to post them on Facebook.”
“What they are doing,” she told the Limerick Leader this week, “is contrary to good child protection policy.”
The woman, who does not want her name used, became aware of the Facebook photographs after her own daughters attended the disco which was billed as an after-Junior Cert disco for 12 to 18 year olds. She was appalled by some of the 400 or so photographs she found on the disco’s website. But her main concern revolved around the issues of consent and child protection.
She told the Limerick Leader that many of the photographs were “tagged”, which carried the risk that undesirable third parties could potentially get access to the minors’ own Facebook pages.
And she had to go to great lengths to have the photographs of her daughters taken down from the site. She was unable to contact the disco-owner directly and only managed to acquire an email address through the intervention of the Gardai. When he eventually did ring the woman, he blocked his own telephone number but he did take down the photos of her daughters.
The woman is still very unhappy with his reaction to her objections. She objected in particular to one photograph showing a boy fondling a girl’s semi-naked bottom. The disco-owner’s response was that their head of security had dealt with this particular incident himself “as soon as it came to his attention.”
“Why, then,” asks the woman, “did they post the photograph?”
The owner also told her by email: “We intend changing the security setting on the page to ‘private’ so that only people who are approved by us can view the contents.”
Yet this Wednesday, the Limerick Leader had absolutely no problem accessing the site.
On the issue of taking the photographs he said:: “We take them purely for the benefit of the kids who like to view the night’s events over the following days.”
However, he agreed that they would let parents know that photographs were taken at the under-age discos. “Being a parent myself I recognise how serious the issue of child protection is and I agree with you that our children need to be protected from people who would try and use these images for another purpose,” he said.
The Limerick Leader emailed a number of questions to the disco-owner but had received no reply up to the time of going to press. The mother however believes that many if not most parents know nothing about the photographs and would be appalled if they saw the pictures that appeared of their children. Teen-discos, she says, should be safe places and should adhere to strict child protection guidelines.