The article written by West Cape News and published by City Press, “How to breed a hardened criminal” (20/06/2010 p.13) is one to be glad about. This article exposes violations of childrens’ rights in the judicial system, highlighting inefficiencies in conducting court cases to either try children accused of committing crimes, or release them on bail. The result is that many children are detained for several years in high security adult prisons before going to trial.
The article discusses the violation of children’s constitutional rights because of negligence in the departments of social development, education, justice and correctional services. It also explains the potential consequences of these failures on the lives of the children who are detained while awaiting trial.
On first reading the article, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) was concered that it had identified a child. The subject, who, from the age of fourteen, spent three years in a maximum security adult prison awaiting trial, was accessed and identified in the article. His story clearly illustrates the challenges faced by young people in the prison system, However the article failed to make his current age clear.
Upon further investigation, MMA confirmed that he was 18. Had this not been the case, his identification would have been a violation of his rights as a child to both privacy and protection. In such circumstances, the subject should be given a pseudonym.
Several other sources were also accessed in the article. These included social workers, social welfare lecturers, and constitutional law experts. The use of several sources provided a well informed, well rounded view of where the issue of un-convicted children in our prison system is rooted, as well as the potential consequence for the child; entering a cycle of crime.
MMA applauds West Cape News for its investigative and critical article on inefficiencies in court cases concerning children, However, it is important to make clear whether or not a subject is 18 or older, especially when he or she is identified in a news story.