On April 7th, two major news platforms published a story regarding a child who was allegedly sexually molested and impregnated. The article included the child’s name, surname, and location.
Our organization, S.A.F.E® For Children Society, involved in the case, reached out to both platforms to request the removal of the identifying information. Additionally, the organization contacted the Child Protection Network of Lagos State for assistance.
One of the platforms modified the news, removing the name of the child, however, the head of the other platform, who claims to be a lawyer insisted that he would not remove the name unless other platforms also removed it, citing that they obtained the information from a source who may still have the article up. Despite our rigorous advocacy, the article remained on the platform, much to our disappointment and detriment to the child.
This incident is not the first time such an issue has occurred with news platforms, and it is disheartening to see the continued commitment to release to the public identities of children, who have suffered one form of abuse or the other, particularity child sexual abuse.
SENSES (CHILD’S RIGHT PRINCIPLES ON PRIVACY AND PROTOCOL FOR REPORTING )
It is imperative to protect a child’s right to privacy, which is a fundamental right. UNICEF’s Ethical Reporting Guidelines provide some relevant principles that journalists should keep in mind when reporting on children.
One key principle is to avoid categorizations or descriptions that may expose a child to negative reprisals, such as additional physical or psychological harm, lifelong abuse, discrimination, or rejection by their local communities. Another principle is to always provide accurate context for the child’s story or image.
It is also important to change the name and obscure the visual identity of any child, who is identified as affected by sexual abuse or exploitation.
STONES (CALL TO ACTION)
The case mentioned above highlights the importance of protecting the privacy and dignity of children in the media. Media houses and Child-Focused Organizations should take immediate action to ensure that the rights of children are protected when reporting on sensitive issues like Child Sexual Abuse.
Media houses should adhere to ethical reporting guidelines and ensure that the identity of the child involved is not revealed in any way that can expose them to negative reprisals or further harm. This can be done by changing the child’s name, obscuring their visual identity, and avoiding any categorizations or descriptions that could lead to identification and subsequent stigmatization or discrimination.
Child-Focused Organizations should continue to advocate for the protection of children’s rights and work closely with media houses to educate them on ethical reporting practices, while upholding these standards themselves
It is important to remember that the media plays a crucial role in shaping public opinion and attitudes towards child sexual abuse. By reporting on these issues responsibly and ethically, media houses can help raise awareness and promote the protection of children’s rights.
Source: Olabisi AFOLABI