Taking and sharing images

Spectators in a stadium, one of them is taking a photograph.

Get to know the risks when taking images

It’s never been easier to take and share photos. Nowadays most adults have mobile phones with cameras, and so do many children and young people.

It’s natural to want to take photos of friends and family at a sports match, an event or during recreation activities. But taking and sharing digital photos and videos of children and young people comes with safeguarding risks.

We’re not suggesting you should stop taking photos completely. But we do advise becoming familiar with the risks. This means you can do what’s necessary to protect tamariki and rangatahi from harm.

This web page explains these risks and what you can do, including:

  • learning the risks when taking and sharing images

  • reducing the risks as a club or organisation

  • reducing the risks as a parent or caregiver

  • talking with children and young people

  • safeguarding young people in the higher levels of competition 

  • responding to concerns.

 Tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) means anyone under 18 years old.

Warning: This page contains information that may be distressing or triggering for some people. Contact support services

Risks when taking and sharing images


If people take and share photos and videos for negative reasons

Most photos and videos are taken with good intentions. But some people may take or share images for purposes for negative reasons.

  • Some children and young people may take and share compromising photos and videos of their friends and team mates to humiliate or embarrass them. Although often intended to be light-hearted fun, this can go too far. It can hurt the feelings of individuals, cause distress and lower their self-esteem.

  • Taking and sharing photos can be part of a deliberate bullying campaign, whether they are shared online or between individuals.

  • Some adults may take photos and videos of children and young people for inappropriate reasons, such as for uploading and sharing for sexual reasons.

  • ‘Upskirting’,  also known as ‘downblousing’, is also an issue. It’s when someone  takes an intimate photo or video beneath or under another person’s clothing without them knowing. It’s illegal to take intimate images of other people without their consent.

  • ‘Creepshots’ are when someone takes a photo of someone’s clothed body in public and without their permission. Creepshots can be sexually suggestive or of people in unflattering poses. They usually focus on parts of the body, for example the legs or backside.

Find help if you’re experiencing online image-based abuse — on the Netsafe website


Privacy risks if images become public

If you share a photo or video privately, there’s nothing to stop someone else re-sharing it beyond the intended audience or publicly.

If someone shares images or videos — for example by posting them on social media — this can compromise the privacy and safety of the child or young person in the images.

  • If other details are posted with images, tamariki or rangatahi can be identified and contacted without their parents’ or caregivers’ knowledge.

  • People with restricted or prohibited access to a child or young person can use online images to find and contact them. This is a risk for the safety of children and young people in care or under protection orders, or where there are concerns about family violence and safety.

  • People can use online photos to locate, identify and groom children and young people for abuse.

  • Once a photo or video is made public, it can become part of a child or young person’s online identity, with long-term impacts on children and young people’s safety, wellbeing, and reputation.

See guidance about posting photos of other people on social media — from the Privacy Commissioner Te Mana Mānāpono Matatapu Find out more about how to identify and protect tamariki and rangatahi from grooming


Risks when photos are taken out of context or manipulated

Once someone shares an image — on social media or by text or email — it can be misused. It is impossible to control where images end up or how they will be used once they are online.

People can take photos and videos and use them out of context. For example, a photo of a young person doing the splits at certain angles, or a video of tamariki and rangatahi in a changing room, could be shared for inappropriate reasons.

Nowadays, it’s also easy to use AI software to manipulate photos and videos into ‘deep fakes’. Any publicly shared image of tamariki and rangatahi can be taken out of context, digitally altered, used inappropriately or made to appear sexual.

If an apparently compromising image of the child or young person is in the public domain, some people can use these for blackmail or to extort further inappropriate images (sextortion).

Learn options for dealing with online image-based bullying – on the Netsafe website Find help if you’re experiencing online image-based abuse — on the Netsafe website

It is illegal to possess, trade, distribute and display images that sexually exploit children or young people.

Read about the penalties — on the Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs website

Reducing the risks as a club or organisation

As a club or organisation, you can take steps to reduce some of the risks for the children and young people who use your facilities and attend your activities. This section gives examples of what you can do. They are based on established child safeguarding practices used around the world.

Decide on a policy about taking and sharing images

Decide how your club or organisation will manage the risks. Document this in a policy on taking images and videos of children and young people:

  • on your premises

  • at events or activities that you’ve organised and where you are responsible as a club or organisation for participants’ safety.

Policies set out rules about what is and isn’t okay in your club or organisation. You could support this policy by explaining in more detail in a code of conduct or guidance.

Most people don’t read policies, codes of conduct or guides by choice. As a club or organisation, decide how you’re going to communicate these to your staff, volunteers, members and visitors. We’ll discuss this in the next section.

If you are visiting a club or venue and want to take photos, check if they have a policy about taking and sharing photos of tamariki and rangatahi.

Explain and communicate the risks to members and visitors

Most people will do what’s asked of them if they understand why it’s needed. Decide how you will communicate the risks of taking and sharing images.

  • Let staff and volunteers in your organisation or club know about the policy or recommendations. Ask them to respect this decision. Be clear about any consequences if the rules or recommendations are not followed.

  • Ensure members and visitors understand the rules and know what to do. This includes telling caregivers and whānau, as well as their children and young people.

  • Explain the risks and why you need people to do what you’ve asked.

  • Actively promote your policy through, for example, in direct communications, newsletters, social media, and posters.

Have requirements for what’s included in photo and video content

Tell people what can be included in and with photos and videos of tamariki and rangatahi, such as:

  • children and young people should be dressed in the kit for the sport or recreation

  • they should be wearing clothing that doesn’t expose their body unnecessarily

  • where possible, avoid showing the full face and body, especially when photographing or filming tamariki and rangatahi swimming or doing gymnastics

  • photos should focus on the whole activity rather than on individuals

  • avoiding taking or sharing images or children and young people in poses that could be misused or misconstrued.

Have a requirement where people should ask for consent or permission — in writing and in advance — before they take photos or videos of tamariki or rangatahi.

When asking for consent, make sure tamariki and rangatahi and their caregivers understand  why you want to take photos, and how you intend to use and/or share them. This is also known as ‘informed consent’.


  • must be given by the parents or caregivers, and

  • should be given by the child or young person they’d like to photograph or film.

If you’re sharing photos or videos publicly on behalf of the club or organisation (online or in print), don’t publish the full name of the child or young person unless you have written consent from the parents or caregivers. You should also ask the child or young person in the photograph for their consent.

If the child or young person doesn’t want to be photographed or filmed, they shouldn’t be. If parents or caregivers don’t want images taken of their child or young person, this should be respected. If they don’t want their full details included with shared photos or videos, don’t include this.

When consent is not given by tamariki, rangatahi or caregivers/whānau:

  • respect this request

  • communicate this decision with staff members and volunteers.

Ban mobile phone and camera use in changing rooms and toilets

Children and young people are vulnerable when undressed, showering or dressing in changing rooms.

When someone uses a mobile phone in a changing room, it’s difficult to tell if they are simply sending a text or using an app. They could be taking photos or videos.

Photography should not be allowed in toilets, changing rooms or showers under any circumstances. This includes ‘selfies’.

To reduce the risk further, consider banning the use of mobile phones, tablets and cameras in these areas completely. Make this clear to everyone through communication, clear signage and posters.

Storing, using and deleting images

If you have received consent to take photos or film tamariki and rangatahi, you’ll need to:

  • decide how long you as a club or organisation will keep photos for — you could choose to only keep recent photos, or just for the season or year they were taken in

  • keep photographs or recordings of children and young people secure — they should only be accessed by people who are checked in line with your child-safe recruitment processes

  • delete or destroy images once they aren’t needed.

Read about background checks and training for staff and volunteers

When using photos:

  • decide where photos of children can be used safely and what details can be included when using them

  • avoid publishing personal details of children with photos

  • think about if you could use stock (commercial) or official photos instead of photos of tamariki and rangatahi from your club or team.

The club or organisation itself should ask for consent — before using photos in promotional materials, websites or official social media channels — from the parents or caregivers of the child or young person in the photograph. You should also ask the child or young person in the photograph to make sure they are okay with this.

You must also ask for consent if you plan to publish any personal details with the photo.

Do not use photos if:

  • you don’t have consent

  • the reason you’re using them is different from what was originally consented to.

Options for managing photography during events

If you’re running an event, you have options for managing photography. Some may not be possible for your situation. You could:

  • advise people in advance of attending about the policy or recommendations for taking images, or display signs and information at the event

  • ask parents and caregivers for their consent to allow photography at the event in advance

  • create a registration process for individuals wanting to take photos.

You could also ban all photography and instead use an official photographer. If you do use an official photographer, it’s advisable to:

  • include an agreement or contract for owning, using, storing, distributing and publishing the images

  • go through formal recruitment processes with background checks and vetting

  • make sure the official photographer doesn’t spend time alone with a child

  • only allow them to take photos at the event — they should not go to people’s homes, for example

  • ensure they have a copy of the policy for taking and sharing images

  • tell parents and caregivers in advance there will be an approved photographer

  • ask the photographer to wear visible identification.

Read about background checks and training for staff and volunteers

Reporting and managing concerns

Establish a clear process for reporting and managing concerns in your club or organisation. Let people know what they need to do if they see someone else acting suspiciously. Agree on a system to contact the police if necessary.

Reducing the risks as a parent or caregiver

As a parent, caregiver or other spectator, make sure you’re familiar with:

  • the club’s or organisation’s policy or guidelines about taking and sharing images of children and young people

  • the potential harmful consequences of sharing photos and videos on social media.

If you’re thinking about taking and sharing photos or videos of other people’s children, ask them if they are okay with this. If they aren’t, don’t take or post them.

Be clear about whether you agree with people outside of your whānau taking pictures of tamariki and rangatahi in your care.

Read five tips for sharing images on social media as a parent — on the Netsafe website

Talking with children and young people

Explain the risks at an age-appropriate level.

  • Make sure tamariki and rangatahi understand the rules about not taking or sharing images of each other in the changing rooms or while they aren’t fully dressed.

  • Explain the risks of the photos falling into the wrong hands.

  • Set expectations for everyone’s behaviour around taking and sharing images, including what’s expected from adults.

  • Explain the risk of unintentionally damaging their own reputations and the reputation of their sport or activity.

Tell children and young people what to do if they:

  • think someone photographed or filmed them without their consent

  • feel scared or uncomfortable around the photographer.

Young people in the higher levels of competition

Young gymnast performing for judges sitting in the background

Some young people will move into the higher levels of competition towards elite performance. They may become more well known to the public due to:

  • participation in public events that could also be covered by the media

  • event organisers and organisations promoting the young person’s success

  • promotional reasons where they would benefit from positive media coverage

  • an increased social media following.

It’s natural for others to notice and enjoy their achievements. For example, people may start to take photos of talented young people when they are competing. They may start to receive requests for selfies from fans.

But this can increase safeguarding risks for image taking.

If a club or organisation wants to photograph a young person for promotional reasons, make sure they have consent from the young person and their parents or caregivers. This consent should cover the images being taken and any information published alongside them.

Ensure young people understand how these images could be shared. Explain that if they ever feel uncomfortable about someone taking their picture, they can:

  • leave the situation

  • tell their parents or caregivers and someone at their club or organisation, preferably someone in authority who they trust.

Sometimes the young person, their caregivers, and their representatives deal with media. Make sure everyone understands and is clear about what’s appropriate for interviews, filming and photo sessions. Where sport or recreation organisations are supporting young people, they should help manage these issues and provide guidance.

Live streaming at events

If you, as a club or organisation, plan to live stream an event involving children or young people:  

  • let the parents or caregivers know about this and where it will be live streamed online

  • before the event, gain written consent from the parents or caregivers — ask if it’s okay for their child or young person to be filmed in the live-streamed event, or season of live-streamed events

  • if the parents or caregivers don’t give consent, the child or young person shouldn’t be filmed — the club, organisation or event holders will need to decide how to manage the live streaming to respect their wishes.

Find out more about privacy, CCTV and recording people in public in Aotearoa New Zealand — the Privacy Commissioner Te Mana Mātāpono Matatapu

Responding to concerns

Address concerns and allegations about inappropriate taking or use of images of children and young people in the same way as any other child-protection issue.

If you see someone — including professional photographers — taking photos or filming and it doesn’t align with your policy, code of conduct or guidance:

  • ask them to stop immediately and explain your concern

  • if appropriate, ask them to delete any photos they’ve taken

  • if you’re concerned the person is taking photos or filming illegally, such as in areas like toilet and changing rooms for sexual purposes, contact the police straight away

  • report the incident through the right channels in your club or organisations as soon as possible.

If you are at an event or away on an activity:

  • alert the organisers immediately and let them manage this

  • follow up with your club, organisation or the event organiser to check if the incident was resolved.

If you believe that you or anyone else is in danger at any time in this process, get help straight away and call the police on 111.