Heather Whitten, a photographer and a mom, recently shared a photo of her husband taking care of their sick son. She captured the dad taking care of the boy in the shower. The photo caused millions of positive reactions all over the internet, but a single negative one was enough to send her to court. A single individual sent a complaint to local authorities in Arizona, resulting in Heather and her husband being investigated for neglect.
Heather and her husband Thomas have four children: Lillian (7), Leena (4), and twins Fox and Persephone (2). Fox was very sick when his dad got him into the shower, telling him everything wiould be okay and he would take care of him. Heather was overwhelmed with the scene and took a photo of them. Little Fox was later taken to hospital and diagnosed with salmonella poisoning. The photo has reached over 9 million people all over the world, and attracted a lot of attention – but obviously not only positive one.
Someone filed a claim against Heather, accusing her of neglect and child abuse. The police stated they weren’t going to take action and the case would be closed, but the investigator from DCS did her best to prove that Heather is “an immodest, neglectful and abusive mother”. She made her conclusions upon the fact that Heather breastfed one of her twins during the interview without covering herself or the child. And I can’t believe someone actually makes conclusions based on this.
Heather ran a GoFundMe page to raise money towards her civil case, and it was successfully funded. DCS closed their case in July, as they had no right of taking any action against Heather because of breastfeeding. However, this isn’t all.
Heather can be accused of neglecting to supervise her children by posting their images online and putting them at an unreasonable risk of harm. If this claim is substantiated, she will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years. This means she will no longer be able to foster or adopt children, or work with children or vulnerable adults throughout the whole country. This could harm Heather as an artist, as she wouldn’t be able to do her job as a photographer any longer.
Heather is a birth photographer, so her photos share intimate, personal and dare I say – pretty raw moments. She is also sharing a lot of photos from her and her family’s personal life, depicting parenthood with all its bright sides and challenges. All this means she takes and posts a lot of photos of children – and if the claim against her is substantiated, she may not be able to do it any longer.
An administrative hearing is being held on February 3, 2017. There is a petition on Change.org to support Heather and stop the neglect claims against her.
In my opinion, this claim is ridiculous. I am generally against posting photos of children publicly on the internet, because there really are all kinds of creeps out there. But there are many children, family and birth photographers, and they need to display their work. Also, Heather’s photo shares a vulnerable, intimate moment within one family. I don’t see anything wrong about it, and I certainly don’t see taking care of your child as an abuse and neglect.
What do you think? Does this deserve such a harsh punishment? Or do you think posting this photo really is neglect? Share your thoughts in the comments.
[via Hot Moms Club]