Most of us love to share our photos of our pets or kids or vacation or food, and we appreciate seeing others’ snapshots as well. While I keep my kids’ faces on lockdown because of what I do, I don’t deny anyone the right to share the things that bring them joy.
But getting to know you, back to school, introduce yourself assignments asking kids (or adults) to share photos can be a trauma trigger for way more people than you realize. The senior year and graduation events can be especially painful. I hope teachers and employers and those organizing senior year activities will all take note. I am sure someone in your group is like some of the people listed below.
The boy whose mother died in childbirth, doesn’t want to see his baby photos.
The child who moved in with grandparents at age three, may not want to share pictures of their early experience – either because they have negative feelings about where they lived or who they lived with or because they miss those people and places terribly.
The girl who was bullied in school doesn’t want to share her kindergarten photo.
The foster child may not want to share pictures of either family or may not have access to photos of the family they want to share.
The boy who was adopted does not have pictures from before he was 8.
The girl whose house burned down in middle school who may or may not be able to access photos, but is sad seeing pictures in that house.
The transracial adoptee may not want peers to see their white parents.
The child who was rejected by parents after coming out and moved in with friends may not have pictures or may hate the way they were forced to dress.
The boy who just beat cancer may still be grieving the loss of his hair and how chemo has changed his body.
The child with a disabled parent may not want to share family photos.
The girl who was abused her entire life may not have any pictures that bring her joy until she is an adult.
When considering photo sharing activities, think about the reason that you want to include pictures. Is it for the kids or the parents? Will it highlight differences in a negative way (teens often like to blend in)? Giving an opt out doesn’t help kids to blend in. There is no age or time period that won’t have triggers for someone because life is filled with hard things.
I would recommend moving toward sharing “favorite photos” rather than “little you” pics. Avoid asking for baby photos and if you are using kids’ photos for your group’s marketing or awareness campaign, perhaps you should be compensating them for their participation rather than using peer pressure to get the specific pictures that you desire.
This picture and caption was originally posted on instagram; however, I have expanded the caption based on feedback I received. This photo does bring me much joy. I love being able to share world travel with my kids. Here my son is photographing the Fijian sunrise.