Statement: Photographs of children and young people involved in accidents should not be published

The cities of Espoo, Helsinki and Vantaa want to remind everyone that all adults, including bystanders and members of the media, are responsible for protecting children and young people from publicity in situations involving accidents and other similar circumstances. Publishing pictures of injured children and young people is particularly reprehensible.

For example, while reporting on the bridge accident in Tapiola on 11 May 2023, Helsingin Sanomat published a photo where some of the young victims were visible, except for their faces. The picture was later cropped, but the victims were still visible.

Cropping the faces out of a photo is not a sufficient protection measure. Children and young people attending the same school or living in the same neighbourhood can easily recognise each other by their clothes. Guardians and other people close to the children can also recognise them by their clothes. There is also a significant risk that photos of accidents will remain circulating online forever, even if the photos were further cropped or removed later.

When photos of accidents are published very quickly, it is possible that information on the incident has not yet reached the close relatives of the victims. Seeing your injured child or sibling in a news photo can be very traumatic.

Authorities must also be allowed to work undisturbed. After the bridge accident in Tapiola, rescue services in the Uusimaa region issued a petition asking the public not to photograph accident victims or disturb rescue workers. The authorities have often reminded the public of this matter before.

All those involved in accidents are in shock –  whether they were injured or not. It is therefore also morally questionable to ask the public to send photos. However, if photos are sent to the media, they should only be published with careful consideration.  

Journalistic guidelines also take a stand on the protection of privacy. Paragraphs 28 and 30 of the guidelines state that the media must use particular discretion when dealing with matters concerning minors and when reporting on accidents or victims of accidents.

In the words of rescue services: Act like the victim is someone close to you. Stay out of the way and let rescue workers do their job. Take photos of life, not accidents.


Johanna Pajakoski
Director of Communications, City of Espoo

Liisa Kivelä
Chief Communications Office, City of Helsinki

Kaisu Tolvanen
Head of Communications (acting), City of Vantaa