A boy aged 13 bravely ran to his neighbours after he had been stabbed in the face by a man who sexually assaulted his mother. The man is suspected to be HIV positive. This was a front page story in the Daily Sun (23 April 2007, p1 & 2) entitled Boy of 13 tried to save mum from rapist!

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The Daily Sun should be commended for the manner in which they covered this story. Firstly, there was a deliberate decision on their part not to identify the child or the mother: “Daily sun is not publishing the name of the latest SunHero to protect his identity and his mum’s”.

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Secondly, children who witness traumatic events tend to be represented as victims and not survivors. In this case, the story goes beyond presenting the boy as a survivor by focusing on his heroic act. It is also important to note that the article only mentioned the violence that took place against both the mother and the child without going into graphic details of the violence. This way, it was easy to present both of them as survivors and not victims of violence. The article did not dwell on the assault against the mother, but rather presented her as a proud mother of a very brave boy.

Lastly, the article indirectly informs the public of the medical procedures that take place after a woman has been raped. It briefly explains what the mother did after the incident. She went to the doctors for an HIV test and took medication to prevent infection in case she was exposed to the virus. It also highlighted the fact that although the first test came out negative for HIV, there was still a need for her to undergohave another to be sure. These details serve to educate and inform the public.

For these reasons, the Media Monitoring Project would like to commend the Daily Sun for writing a simple but powerful story that is thoughtful, encouraging and informative.