Children on the Spotlight: Ethics on how to film children

By Nilda Melissa Diaz

Receiving a request from Stringr often, if not always, means that you will be filming complete strangers. People going about their day at a street fair, sports fans tailgating, passersby after a vehicular collision etc. The law is on your side as you can record people as long as they are in public areas, such as sidewalks and streets. But what should you do when it comes to filming children?


Children טף

Children and minors are not exempt from being recorded and photographed in public places. But the general consensus in the media is to proceed with caution; they’re seen as vulnerable human beings. This is why B-roll often includes the back of their heads, their legs or a somewhat blurred image.

The Ethical Journalism Initiative (EJI), “a global campaign of programs and activities to support and strengthen quality in media”, launched in 2008 by the International Federation of Journalists, provides a list of guidelines to follow when dealing with children.

According to the EJI guidelines, you can shoot, for example, a family event where children are involved, but it is best to not show their faces. The exception is if it is absolutely critical to the value of your video.

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia Journalism School, says it best: “Children are not miniature adults, and they deserve special consideration when they end up in the news”. The Dart Center’s tips on covering children and youth are focused more on interviewing, but most of the tips, still apply to recording.

Among these tips is the assessment of the risk of vulnerability for the child. For example a child playing at a street fair cannot be compared as a child that just witnessed a car collision. In addition to that, don’t forget the laws or guidelines. In some areas there are signs that temporarily prohibit filming of children. Keep an eye out.

Last but not least, use your gut. If it is not necessary for the story to show a child, then don’t include them. But if it is, consider how to better angle your shot to protect them.

One comment

  1. Stringr · October 7, 2015

    Reblogged this on THE STRINGR BLOG and commented:

    Filming kids in public can get you into muddy waters when it comes to journalistic ethics. In this blog post, we’ll explain how to make sure you’re not breaking the law in this situation.


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