Children’s views should be sought when reporting an incident involving a child in the media and the report should think of adolescents as readers, too, said participants in a media consultation on gender sensitisation.
An advisory for media persons was released at the seminar, Gender Responsive Prevention and Response to Child Protection 2022, organised by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights in association with Terre des hommes, a foundation that protects vulnerable children, and NGO Jaiprakash Institute of Social Change, on Thursday.
The advisory included guidelines like avoid descriptions that expose a child to negative reprisals and provide an accurate context for a child’s story.
The advisory is an initiative of the child rights commission and Terre des hommes.
“Media... has the onus of highlighting and bringing forth any violation of rights of children for the concerned authority to take due action,” the advisory says.
“Children should be portrayed in a way that does not impede their rights, they should be seen as individuals.”
It says that children should be allowed access to the media, including digital and social media, with appropriateness.
“The child and media relationship is an entry point to the world of children and their rights to education, freedom of expression, identity, health, dignity and protection,” it says.
While newspapers have been protecting the identity of children in reports, participants said more reports on child rights and dedicated time slots on TV were needed.
News on childs rights have to remain in memory and media houses have to consider the child a reader and recipient of the news, they said.
“Do news reports address the adolescent? A 13-year-old boy or a 10-year-old girl is also listening to the news or reading a report. Can we consider that and listen to the child’s voice?” said Ruchira Goswami who teaches at National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.
The chairperson of the state commission for protection of child rights in the keynote address said that it was not enough to think in “binaries” but the third gender has to be accepted, too. The advisory mentions this in the need to promote gender equality.
“It is important to change how we think. If we do that, our children will also learn to think beyond gender stereotypes,” said Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, chairperson of the commission.
The advisory mentions that giving equal voice and air time to women, transgender and men, representing them in their multiple roles is society is intrinsic to freedom of expression and speech.