By Chioma Umeha
Following growing incidence of child abuse in the society, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has urged media practitioners to embrace ethics by avoiding reports which inflicts stigma on children and compromise their rights.
This was made known in a two-day media workshop on ethical reporting on children held at Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, Oyo State, organised by Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy in collaboration with UNICEF.
The aim of the workshop is to share with journalists some developed guidelines and principles that would assist in covering children in an ethical and sensitive manner.
UNICEF Communication Officer, Advocacy, Media and External Communications, Blessing Ejiofor, explained that reporting a child abuse case without observing ethics of journalism relating to this kind of reportage will cause more harm to the affected child.
Ejiofor who was addressing participants drawn from the Southwest geopolitical zone of the country, noted that reporting on children unethically places them at risk of retribution or stigmatisation.
She said: “We all know that reporting on children and young people has its special challenges. In some instances, the act of reporting on children places them or other children at risk of retribution or stigmatisation.
“Hence, the aim of this workshop is to share with journalists some developed guidelines and principles that would assist them cover children in an appropriate and sensitive manner.
“The guidelines are meant to support the best intentions of ethical reporter in serving the public interest without compromising the rights of children,” she said.
“This workshop is to provide journalists with more information and materials to support decent reporting on children and to familiarize participants with the equity focused child rights based approaches. It is also to share experiences on best practices worldwide,” the UNICEF Communication Officer added.
Speaking further on ethics reporting on children, Dr. Goke Rauf from Department of Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, explained that ethics are rules of conduct or principles of morality that point toward the right or best way to report children-based issues.
Speaking on “Ethical Journalism”, Dr. Goke, noted that in a quest to serve the public the truth, journalists should consider the right to privacy of the victim, public interest on the story and national security.
The guest lecturer highlighted factors responsible for unethical practices as conflict of interest, poor technical knowledge, ownership pattern, and poor welfare for journalists.
The scholar and UNICEF Consultant said: “It’s important to set standards of moral context; you cannot say because you have the truth, you want to violate child right… code of conduct described by the press to guide, guard and protect the professionals and profession itself.”