Strangers taking pictures of children, should it be illegal?

The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, of the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee has proposed a bill that would make it illegal to photograph or videotape someone else’s child when “a reasonable parent or guardian would not expect his child to be the subject of such reproduction.” Source  This new measure is aimed at stopping child molesters and other child predators from taking pictures of children in public.

The bill was initiated after an incident at a local swim meet where a sixty-three year old man was found to be videotaping the children at the meet.  When asked by police what he was doing the man admitted that he found “girls 8 to 10 to be sexy.” NJ NEWS  Police were unable to charge the man with a crime because filming someone in public, even children in bathing suits, is not illegal.

This bill, if passed will run into a variety of legal and enforcement issues.  What if you are filming your own child in the park and another child runs into the shot, are you violating the law?  Also sometimes it is difficult to determine what exactly people are photographing or filming.  Would innocent citizens be stopped and questioned by the police every time they pulled out a camera?  Additionally, as blogger Margaret Hartmanm points out, this law could punish advertisers and newspapers.  Local sporting or school events may not be covered for fear of violating the law.  And advertisers could be kept from running ads for children’s clothing, thereby harming their business and the businesses that benefit from their ad revenue.

Child predators are a serious problem all over the country, but laws like this may go t0o far.  If South Carolina proposed a bill similar to this one, would you be in favor or against it?

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