Monday, May 23, 2011
Help Me Howard: Picture Taker
How would you feel if a perfect stranger pulled out their cell phone and started taking pictures of your small child? Bet you wouldn't be happy, but legally, can they do it? Every parent might need to know the answer, so let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Everyone thinks their kids are cute.
Everyone tells Chantelle her boys are.
Chantelle Bergeron, Upset by Picture: "I have people tell me all the time, 'Oh, your son is such a handsome boy.'"
That's a good thing. Most of the time.
Chantelle Bergeron: "I, just as a mom, was sitting there feeling like, this is not OK. This is not all right for this man to have my son's picture in his phone."
Chantelle's problem started when she had to go pay her phone bill.
Braden was very sick, so she pulled up in front of the store, gave Mason the money, and stood outside the car while he ran in to pay her bill.
Chantelle Bergeron: "The counter was about six feet, seven feet from where I was to pay the bill."
As Chantelle watched, her son's face told her something was wrong.
Mason Bergeron: "I did not like it."
Chantelle motioned for him to get out of the store.
Chantelle Bergeron: "When he came outside, he said, 'Mommy, I don't feel all right. The man that worked inside the store was making me take pictures when he was using his cell phone.'"
This is what the store clerk did: Told Mason to hold the money up to his face while he took pictures like this. He made Mason keep doing it till he smiled.
Chantelle Bergeron: "As soon as I heard what my son said, I barged right into the store and said, 'Excuse me, who's taking pictures of my son?' And the gentleman who worked there says, 'Oh, I was.' And I said, 'Could you tell me why?' And he said, 'You have a cute kid. I wanted pictures of him.'"
Chantelle knows Mason is cute. But she says a grown man asking him to pose like this is not.
Chantelle Bergeron: "I just, I think it's kind of weird for a grown man where he works to just want to take out his cell phone and photograph a 6-year-old boy."
Chantelle says maybe it was innocent, and maybe it's not.
Chantelle Bergeron: "I have no idea what he could've done with those pictures. You see so many things on the news and so many things everywhere on the newspapers of so many things that are happening with children pornography."
Chantelle couldn't leave Braden in the car, so she took Mason and went home. She called the store to speak to a manager, but the man who took the picture wouldn't let her.
Then, she spoke to a school resource officer to see if she was overreacting.
Chantelle Bergeron: "He said, 'That's not right. That's definitely not right. Something needs to be done.'"
Well Howard, it's a free country. Paparazzi make a living taking unwanted pictures every day. But can a store clerk take a picture of a little boy?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "The answer is yes. Anyone can take can a picture of anyone else in public, no matter their age, without their permission. And unbelievably, Florida law does not even prevent child molesters from taking pictures of children."
When we contacted the store, they told us that they had done a criminal background check on the employee: He was clean; that there was nothing perverted about his decision to take the pictures: He thought a child paying a phone bill was cute. They also told us that they could not find any pictures on his phone, and the owner would be happy to talk to Chantelle about it.
Chantelle Bergeron: "You have to do whatever you have to to do keep them safe."
Knowing strangers can take pictures of her kids doesn't make Chantelle happy. And oh, there is one more thing she wanted everyone to know.
Chantelle Bergeron: "I don't want people to think I am a bad mom for letting him go in, because he was six feet in front of me. I could see him the whole time. That's when I saw the money going up, and I was thinking, what is he doing?"
Patrick Fraser: "While people can take a picture in public without your permission, they can't take a picture of you where you have an expectation of privacy. For example, they cannot shoot through a window in your home, where you might be dressing or undressing. That is against the law."
Developed a problem you want to delete? Need a picture perfect solution? Contact us. Nobody calls us cute. Nobody takes a snapshot of us. Fortunately, they do call us for help.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com