Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children
. 5 - 7 July 2005 Ljubljana, Slovenia  
Europe and Central Asia






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Links and resources

UNICEF's principles for ethical reporting on children: Guidelines

The Media and children's rights, UNICEF: PDF

International Federation of Journalists:
Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism - Child rights

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 the child.

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 the Right).

What can journalists do?

• 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 their world.

What should journalists avoid?

• Sexual, violent or victim-focused journalism potentially damaging to children.
• Stereotyping and sensationalizing material.
• Reinforcing prejudices and preconceived ideas that contribute to tolerance of violence against children.
• Fostering an image of adolescents or younger children as sexually mature.
• Portraying children as ‘villains’ (in reports about street crime, for example).

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