Absence of Children’s Voices
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a MOP to The Citizen for an article that completely fails to access children in a matter which has a direct impact on their education and their safety at school.
The article titled, “Soshanguve pupils march to local police station after brutal rape, murder of matric pupil”, (The Citizen, 29/05/2023) reports on the march by pupils to police station in Soshanguve. This comes after 17-year-old girl was raped and killed on her way back from school. The article reports that Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane made a visit to the school with the purpose of meeting the school’s management and addressing the students. During his visit, he provided reassurance to the pupils and parents, emphasizing that the police were diligently working to apprehend the individuals responsible for Malatji’s tragic murder. However, no children were accessed in this article.
Neglecting children’s voices when covering issues that affect them is a violation of their rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Article 13 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC) Article 7. These two articles seek to promote children’s rights to freedom of expression, dignity, and privacy, among other rights. Furthermore, these articles were ratified by South Africa in 1995 and 2000 respectively.
Furthermore, MMA’s 2022 media monitoring results on reporting on children reveal that only 8% of children’s voices were heard between May and September 2022 in media coverage of them. Unfortunately, The Citizen’s article furthers such a negative trend of children’s voices being ignored in the media.
Failing to consult with children on matters that impact them denies them the chance to participate in discussions, offer insights, and help develop solutions. This lack of engagement also undermines the empowerment of children.
MMA encourages The Citizen to always include children’s voices when reporting on stories involving children especially when in the children’s best interests.
Written by Musa Rikhotso
Edited by Ntombifuthi Kubeka
 A missed opportunity (MOP) is a story in which children should have been accessed but were not.