UNICEF admonishes journalists on positive report on children
In order to achieve a world where the rights of children are recognized, respected and upheld, journalists must strive to report issues concerning children with good intention by following ethical standards, principles and guidelines on reporting children, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF Communication Officer, Lagos, Blessing Ejiofor, who stated this during a two-day media workshop on “Ethical Reporting on Children” held in Ibadan, Oyo state recently, said though reporting on children and young people has its special challenges, journalists should ensure that their reports do not place children at risk of retribution or stigmatization.
Speaking on the aim of the workshop, she said: “We will want journalists to be able to preserve the dignity and rights of children in reporting children and to be mindful of the kind of images, inform of photographs or visuals, that they use. And to be mindful of the ways and the motives for interviewing children.
The journalists should know that the overriding purpose for every reporting on the child, should be of best interest of the child.”
To ensure that the right of every child is respected and protected, Ejiofor revealed that UNICEF had developed principles to assist journalists as they report on issues affecting children.
“They are offered as guidelines that UNICEF believes will help media to cover children in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner. The guidelines are meant to support the best intentions of ethical reporters: serving the public interest without compromising the rights of children”, she said.
According to her, the principle states that the dignity and rights of every child are to be respected in every circumstance and that while interviewing and reporting on children, special attention is to be paid to each child’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
Additionally, to have their opinions heard, to participate in decisions affecting them and to be protected from harm and retribution, including the potential of harm and retribution.
Ejiofor told the journalists that the best interests of each child are to be protected over any other consideration, including over advocacy for children’s issues and the promotion of child rights.
“When trying to determine the best interests of a child, the child’s right to have their views taken into account are to be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. Those closest to the child’s situation and best able to assess it are to be consulted about the political, social and cultural ramifications of any reportage,” she said.
She also urged the journalists not to publish a story or an image which might put the child, siblings or peers at risk even when identities are changed, obscured or not used.
The Director, School of Communication and Information Technology, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun state, Dr. Goke Rauf, stressed the need for journalists to consider the right to privacy of the victim, public interest, and national security when reporting rape issues involving children.
Rauf enjoined journalists to be more proactive and commit themselves more to reporting children’s issues so as to reduce child abuse in the society.
“On the issue of rape for instance, there is need to uphold the child’s rights act which states that the identity of the child must be protected. People should be educated on the need to report rape cases with the identity and name of the child preserved should any falls victim of rape”, he said.
According to him, Nigerians must be well-informed on the need to protect and respect the rights of children because children constitute the future of this generation and the world generally.
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