The article, “School bully terror!” (Daily Sun, 10/08/12, p.6) fails a boy, aged 12, and his cousin by indirectly identifying them in a bullying incident. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) therefore awards the article a MAD1 for not following ethical guidelines when reporting on these children.
The article reports on how two boys were suspended from school and later found guilty at a disciplinary hearing after one of them, the 12-years-old, was found with a breadknife in his school bag in a bid to scare off their bullies. The mother of the 12 –year- old boy was named by the journalist and a photograph of her was published alongside the story, thus indirectly identifying both her son and nephew.
The article further fails to act in the best interests of the children by revealing the name of their school. Consequently, this exposes them to more harm and retribution from their previous bullies, community or those who are relatives and friends of the bullies. This could potentially leave the children emotionally, mentally and even psychologically scarred well after the story has been published.
Bullying is an age-old and global phenomenon and very little is being done to alleviate the problem.2 Because of the misperception that bullying is merely a part of the process of growing up; many children keep quiet about this abuse, just like the boys in the article. Thus, adequate information could have gone a long way in educating the reader about the broader issue of bullying in schools. More so, the article failed to use sources such as psychologists who could have helped breakdown the effects of bullying and how it can be dealt with in schools. Daily Sun however, missed this opportunity.
MMA believes Daily Sun could have done a better job in protecting the identities of the bullied children and avoided exposing them to potential harm.
1. On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”.↩
2.Hymel, S. and Swearer S. Bullying: An Age-old Problem That Needs New Solutions. Retrieved fromhttp://www.education.com/reference/article/bullying-about-power-and-abuse-of-power/↩
In response to the commentary, Daily Sun journalist, Thabo Monama said:
First I apologise and secondly I promise not to do the same next time.