The media shape the way we
see the world – and are, therefore, in
a frontline position to change attitudes to
violence against children. Journalists, photographers,
editors and programme makers act as the eyes,
ears and voices of the public, and have a primary
responsibility to draw attention to abuses of
power and human rights. Through their work,
they can encourage governments, the public and
civil society to effect changes. They are uniquely
placed to help people understand how to stop
violence against children.
Reporting has to be ethical.
Studies on the way the media report show that
too often the focus is on horrific, one-off
cases; that journalists too easily sensationalize;
and that the tendency to exploit stories, rather
than explain them, lets society ignore its responsibility
in the case.
UNICEF’s handbook on
The Media and Children’s Rights was produced
to help media professionals working on stories
about children to do so responsibly, protecting
the child and pointing the finger at the relevant
adults who failed in their obligations towards
Organizations, such as the
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ),
recognize journalists’ responsibility
not only to report fairly and accurately, but
also to reflect children’s own opinions.
Respect for child rights is part of the IFJ’s
professional code of ethics. It has also drawn
up international guidelines on the subject to
help media professionals (Putting Children in
What can journalists
• Generate debate on
the issue of violence against children in our
region by appropriate coverage of the issue.
• Respect children’s privacy and
protect their identity in such cases.
• Give children access to media to express
their own opinions.
• Solicit the views of children with due
respect for identity protection.
• Ensure effective investigative reporting
is not compromised by protecting sources.
• Challenge governments on the implementation
of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
• Combat child abuse by ‘de-sexualizing’
the language used, and pointing out those being
exploited are children.
• Work together with NGOs or people that
the kids trust when gathering material.
• Encourage projects that involve kids
– such as Children’s Express news
agency in the United Kingdom – and use
material prepared by them.
• Make an effort to tackle issues from
the point of view of the child – for instance
interviewing street kids about how they see
What should journalists
• Sexual, violent or
victim-focused journalism potentially damaging
• Stereotyping and sensationalizing material.
• Reinforcing prejudices and preconceived
ideas that contribute to tolerance of violence
• Fostering an image of adolescents or
younger children as sexually mature.
• Portraying children as ‘villains’
(in reports about street crime, for example).