Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards City Press a GLAD[1] for reporting an issue facing many children and potentially bringing it to the attention of policy makers. The article selected as a GLAD is titled, “Child-headed household crisis in South Africa” and was written by Yoliswa Sobuwa on 17 July, 2022.

The news article discusses the issue of child-headed households across the country stating that as of 2018, 33 000 child-only households existed across the country.  

Among the people profiled in the story are three brothers in Verulam, Kwa-Zulu Natal who share their experiences. The journalist, Yoliswa Sobuwa interviews the eldest brother, 17, who recalls his experiences being the main caregiver of his younger siblings, 12 and 13, after losing their mother about a year ago. He states in the article, “I have to look after my siblings, cook for them and make sure they have everything they need for school. However, it’s not easy. At times, it feels as if the burden is too much. I fear for their lives because, for young boys growing up in the township, anything’s possible.”

The piece also discusses the livelihood of an adult, 26-year-old Mzwakhe Mthembu, who lost his parents at the age of 16. Other featured interviewees of the piece include a 13-year-old boy from Eastern Cape who takes care of his two siblings, aged nine and eight.

Sobuwa has achieved an admirable journalistic effort in reporting the realities of children in child-only households across South Africa by interviewing a diverse set of individuals and properly reflecting their realities.

The piece does not break any confidentiality guidelines by not naming any of the minor participants or revealing their identities in accompanying photographs. The piece also references expert opinions on the social and psychological impact of such realities on the development of a child. The reporting angle on 26-year-old Mthembu is also important as it reveals the long-lasting impact of growing up in a child-only household and is supported by the provided expert opinions.

Sobuwa’s reporting follows MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media[2] as it respects the child participants’ privacy, involves experts, and challenges negative perceptions of children in child-only households.

Congratulations to Sobuwa for a careful and excellent report on children who act as caregivers for their siblings. MMA encourages Sobuwa and other journalists to continue to highlight the experiences of children as a vulnerable population, in an ethical manner.

Written by Ayomide Badmus

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children in a responsible manner and for promoting the children’s best interests