Do not report if it’s not in child’s best interest: UNICEF
A workshop held by UNICEF for journalists in the southeastern province of Gaziantep has advised media to “not report news if it is not in the best interest of the child.”
In the workshop, held with the support of the European Union, the topic “Representation of Children in the Media” was discussed among 40 participants, including academics specialized on the matter and journalists from all over Turkey.
“The best investment is the one made in children. We shouldn’t forget that the negligence of a child will cost us dearly,” Sema Hosta, the head of communications at UNICEF Turkey, said at the workshop.
Academics stressed that news stories about children do not include the children’s opinions. Children must be treated as individuals and their opinions matter, they said.
Regarding sensitive issues, such as sexual harassment cases, the focus of the news must be on the nature of the molester, not the children themselves, the workshop stressed.
The experts said that any information that might lead to the disclosure of the child’s identity should be left out from the news story.
Journalists were advised that while interviewing a child, it is important to avoid any questions that can potentially stimulate past traumatic experiences which will put the child in a delicate state.
In the case of juvenile offenders, the experts stressed that the phrases used labelling children as “criminals,” “potential danger” or “street child” should be eluded.
Expressions such as “juvenile pushed to crime” or “child who falls foul of the law” should be used instead, the experts said.
Any expression that represents children as “conscious criminals” must be abstained, the workshop stressed.
It is wrong to label children who are accused of stealing as “dangerous,” the academics said, adding that in such cases, the child is not “dangerous,” but instead “is in danger.”