The new children’s pastor Michell Drummond at Butterfield Assembly of God in Van Buren, Arkansas takes all necessary precautions to protect the rights of the children her team serves as well as to protect the church from any adverse actions from lack of photo and video release forms.
Pastor Drummond says, “These forms all provide information we need to maintain a safe and secure environment, as well as protecting us as a church in cases where there may be a question later.”
The evolution of social media over the past 10 years has changed the way people interact and communicate with others. This includes the way churches, non-profits, and businesses promote activities and recruit new members. The use of photos of children on social media sites can be a sensitive topic according to ProCon.org.
Parents are required to sign release forms for each major activity such as going to summer camp and other special trips. General photo and video consent forms are also kept on file for each child and updated as necessary. A parent’s signed consent form ratifies a leader’s ability to post photos or videos to social media sites according to David Middlebrook with Church Law Group.
Although release forms signed by parents relieve certain legal ramifications, church leaders should also be wary of using crowd shots of children where any child is identifiable. The issue of child pornography in today’s society is rampant; therefore, protecting the identity of children has become even more important according to the University of Melbourne’s website on the guidelines for imagery and video.
Maintaining the highest standard of ethics and morals to protect children remains a top priority for not only Pastor Drummond, but for all those in leadership at Butterfield Church. She implied that Christians should practice going above and beyond what the law requires so that neither integrity nor practices should be brought into question.
“Be completely aware of all your responsibilities in terms of what information you need to get from the families and volunteers, and when you learn what your legal responsibility is, be compliant beyond any shadow of doubt,” cautions Pastor Drummond to current and future participants in the ministry.