Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulates and awards a GLAD[1] to The Star and its journalist, Bongani Nkosi for an article which shared powerful voices of children.

The article, “Study reveals Joburg pupils aged 11 to 18 worried about safety at their schools” (The Star, 19/04/2022) is about a study conducted by Tessa Hochfeld, Jeanette Schmid and Sheri Errington from the University of Johannesburg and Teddy Bear Foundation’s Shaheda Omar. The study was carried out to ascertain what worries pupils at schools. Some of the issues raised in the article include sexual harassment, harassment by teachers, bullying and security around the school premises. The study revealed that this is mainly in predominately black township schools.

The reporter crafted the story in a way that children’s voices, which are dominating, make the story more powerful and impactful.  Some of the children’s revelations in the study are shocking and concerning. Therefore, it is commendable that the journalist, Bongani Nkosi took deliberate measures to ensure that the children’s identities are protected, and this includes not revealing the schools involved and having a child’s back to the camera in the accompanying photograph.

One of the children who took part in the study is quoted in the article saying, “My biggest worry at school is when I hear teachers insult us and swear at us expecting us to be quiet and telling us about their kids.”

Another learner is quoted saying, “My biggest worry at school is that some people get sick because of the dirty toilets.”

The journalist and The Star are commended for reporting the story about findings of the study which raises critical issues that affect school children. More importantly, Bongani Nkosi is commended for using children’s voices to tell this story. MMA has found that often, such stories on studies are told from the voice of the reporter and not from the children involved.

By including the children voices, the journalist adhered to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media.[2] The Guidelines urge media to access children stating, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”

We urge Bongani Nkosi and The Star to continue reporting children’s issues in this manner, so that issues facing the children can be addressed urgently. We also urge other media to emulate the journalist’s efforts.

Written by Ntsako Manganyi

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them.

[2] See p.3

The following is the journalist’s response to the commentary;

… But importantly, thanks a lot for the selection. I really appreciate it. I am happy with the commentary and have nothing to add.