The Daily Sun articles “Young mum dumps baby under bed!” and “’Moses’ in the bucket found in drain!” (12/04/2011, p. 7) violated the rights of the children involved in both stories.
The first article reported on a 17-year old girl who “was pregnant, scared and worried about becoming a mom.” The girl reportedly delivered the baby herself without telling anyone, and then hid the baby boy under the bed.
The article did well by not directly identifying the girl, who is a minor, or any of her family members, but got the MAD for indirectly identifying her by giving out her neighbour’s name along with the name of their residential area.
By providing these details Daily Sun violated the Criminal Procedure Act as the girl in the story is an alleged child offender. A police Inspector was sourced as saying that she will stand trial for concealment of birth.
Section 154 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Act states :” No person shall publish in any manner whatever information which reveals or may reveal the identity of the accused under the age of 18 years or of a witness at a criminal proceedings who is under the age of 18 years”.
Daily Sun missed an opportunity to explore the reasons behind why young pregnant teenagers resort to dumping their babies but instead subjected the child to humiliation by quoting her mother as saying: “I’m very disappointed. I didn’t raise my daughter this way!”
The second article gets a MAD for identifying a baby that was found dumped in a bucket, by publishing his picture and name.
By identifying the child, Daily Sun disregarded his best interests, and exposed him to possible stigmatisation and humiliation in the future as a result of being dumped by his mother as a baby.
Section 28 (2) of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution states: “The child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child”; and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Preamble) emphasises that the child must be protected from actual or potential harm, humiliation and stigmatisation.
MMA urges Daily Sun, and journalists in general, to adhere to legislation and ethical policies in their reportage of children, and reminds them that children’s best interests should always be of paramount importance in any story that involves them.