The Inevitable Role of the Media and Its Practitioners in Child Protection: Fundamental Principle of Media Involvement: Personal Perspective (4)

The media and its practitioners must:

  • Become a self and conscience-appointed Social Police of Child Protection, leading the crusade of Enlightenment, which is superior to Enforcement.
  • Report cases, which affect children in your publication and follow it to a logical conclusion. In most cases reporting a matter that affects children is motivated by sensationalism, a gimmick aimed at increasing copy sales. Thus many stories are not followed to its logical conclusion and even attempt to influence public opinion.

Here are some suggestions on how the media and its practitioner can advance the cause of enlightenment as it affects child protection issues:

1. Straight Newspaper columns both online and hard form.

2. Investigative, dedicated and consistent news reporting, with aim of exposing to the public the whiles of child abusers and exploiters. New reporting will include giving ample airplay to children enlightenment events, seminars and conferences, with a view to ensuring that the message being propagated sinks.

3. Educate the populace on the provisions of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 and Child Protection in your newspapers, using human angle stories, which connect and bring closer to the people the seemingly distant issues of children’s rights and protection.

4. Create a Child’s Rights Corner in Newspapers and News Magazine.

5. Sensitize editors of newsletters and magazines of professional bodies, pressure groups and companies etc. to begin to call attention issues that affect the children.

6. Get Role Models to make statements on the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 and Child Protection: we have a leaf to borrow from South Africa, where every respected and influential figure in the country has made one statement or the other on respect for the rights of the child and his protection.

7. All newspaper columnists, irrespective of your bias to put in a word for the Nigerian child regularly in their column.

8. Radio and television programmes producers should beam their focus on the Child Rights Issues and the protection of children as enshrined in the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 and other local and international legislations.

9. Create quality awareness by inviting to their programs seasoned and well-informed Child Practitioners in different fields, who are able to help enlighten the members of the public. It is my submission that except a man or woman is a professional and practitioner; there is a limit to how he/she can educate the members of the public on an issue beyond the mundane. Passion as talent is important but not as important as knowledge, attitude and skills. I see guests on the Television programs, hear some on radio and even read many in the newspapers, who are yet to understand or be grounded in the issues not to talk of educating members of the public on same. I believe for the print and electronic media to get seasoned and quality resource person to be interviewed on their pages and on their programs, they must do all their best to plan ahead. From my experience, most of the media people do not plan ahead. They have a program tomorrow morning; they are calling the resource person the evening before. It will take a lot of luck, which for example hardly work for me to get a quality person on a radio or television program without proper plan. I once told a producer, who called me a day before his program in the city where I live when I was actually out of town that with the way they handle things, they may never get a seasoned and quality people to appear on their programs. Visionary commitment and sense of mission demands that we plan ahead, research our topics and get the best in the field of discussion to lead such discussion.

10. Publish regularly in your newspapers and magazines both online and hard form and announce on your electronic media the directory of social service providers, both private (Non-Governmental Organizations)   and public (government agencies) who are available to handle child protection issues and also becomes the watchdogs of this social service providers to ensure that they are keeping their promises to the people.

11. A media outfit should identity a child protection issue or issues, set an agenda and adopt it as a Corporate Social Responsibility with the goal to create awareness, sway public opinion and revolutionize public values and habits toward such issues. For example the Child Marriage issue in Nigeria is a major issue that can be adopted. I will shed light on the CNN template, which is their campaign to end modern day slavery in the coming sub-session.

12. Media practitioners, who are interested in children matters, should come together under a pressure group to advance the cause of the children and operate from within the media to ensure that child protection matters attain the front burner of private and public discussions in Africa.

13. Child’s Rights Education has been mainstreamed into the curriculum of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). The goal is to familiarize and enlighten their students on child’s rights and protection issues. It is believed that such exposure at all levels to child’s rights and protection issues will spur the interest of the students from the college day and birth the zeal in them to plead the cause of the child through their medium. I believe all other institution and faculties, which teach mass communication, journalism and related courses should follow the example of NIJ.

14. Take personal responsibility for change and ask the question: what can I do on my own to help the cause of the child: maximize the use of the  new media “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.

The truth is that we all have children and those who don’t have today fervently pray to.  Who knows the next victim of a child abuse?  It may be our cherished son or daughter.  Before you pray, `God forbid bad thing` ask yourself, `have I forbidden “bad thing” by speaking up for the protection of the rights of the child’.  How dare we ask God to forbid what we have not forbidden, which He has given us power to forbid?  That is bulk shifting and God forbids it. It was Martin Luther King who said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. Martin Niemöller sounded the note of warning to collective nonchalance to a threatening social disorder like the threat to the child:  “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Thank you for joining us today. I urge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE… Do have an INSPIRED day.

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