Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) commends Daily Sun, Pretoria News and Cape Argus for ethically reporting on stories that involve minors. These media are awarded a GLAD for respecting the children’s rights to privacy by protecting the identities of the children involved in their stories.
The stories selected as GLADs are, “Grade 1 pupil raped at school!” (Daily Sun, 13/08/2021) written by Kgomotso Modupe; “PICS: 160 pupils forced share class!” (Daily Sun, 13/08/2021) written by Boitumelo Tshehle; “Parents furious over serious challenges facing Northpine Technical High School” (Cape Argus, 13/08/2021) written by Sisonke Mlamla and, “Man who failed to pay maintenance to child and former wife must report to jail” (Pretoria News, 13/08/2021) written by Zelda Venter.
The first story by Daily Sun, “Grade 1 pupil raped at school!” is about a grade one learner who was reportedly raped by a general worker at her school. The story which is written by Kgomotso Modupe reports that there is a call for the MEC of Education to fire the principal because of the failure to suspend the suspect. Accompanying the story are pictures showing children outside the school with a caption, “Chaos erupted at Khensani Primary School in Soshanguve in Tshwane after an alleged rape incident.” The photos which were taken by Raymond Morare are blurred and were taken in a way that is difficult to identify the faces of the children and this protects their identities.
The second article by Daily Sun, “PICS: 160 pupils forced to share class!” is about a 160 learners from Tshegofe Primary School in North West who are reportedly forced to share a community hall because classrooms at their school are being renovated. This story which is written by Boitumelo Tshehle is accompanied by pictures showing children outside the school with a caption, “Tshegofe Primary School pupils sharing the community hall.” The photos are blurred and taken in a way that is difficult to identify the children and this too protects their identities.
The Cape Argus story, “Parents furious over serious challenges facing Northpine Technical High School” is about parents who are complaining about the way Northpine Technical School is managed and its lack of proper leadership. The story which is written by Sisonke Mlamla mentions that one of the parents speaking in the article did not want to be identified because they feared that their child would be victimised. It is for this reason protecting children that the article qualifies as a GLAD.
The last story, “Man who failed to pay maintenance to child and former wife must report to jail” which is by Pretoria News is about a man who has been convicted on two charges for failing to pay maintenance to his child and former wife. The story which is written by Zelda Venter refers to the man as “Mr P” and even states the reason for the pseudonym saying that it is because it is a maintenance matter that involves two of his children. This action protects the children involved from further potential harm
All these stories sufficiently protected the identities of the children involved by ensuring that the children’s names and faces are not revealed; and the names and faces of their parents are also withheld. The withholding of children’s direct and indirect identities is in line with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media, which urge the media to always respect children’s dignity and well-being and, to ensure that the actions of the journalists do not subject the children to harm, including potential harm.
Furthermore, by not using the real name of the father or identifying the children involved in the Pretoria News story on the maintenance dispute, the publication adhered to Section 36 of the Maintenance Act 99. The Section states, “No person shall publish in any manner whatsoever the name or address of any person under the age of 18 years who is or was involved in any proceedings at a maintenance enquiry or the name of her school or any other information likely to reveal the identity of that person.”
The protection of children’s rights by the media in their coverage of children is very important because according to the 2020 media monitoring report on children in the media by MMA, the media continue to violate these rights. Therefore, to have Daily Sun, Pretoria News and Cape Argus protect the rights of the children involved in their stories is commendable as this contributes to reducing the number of children’s rights violations in the media.
MMA hopes that the three media and their journalists will continue to practice such good journalism when it comes to reporting on matters that involve children. Well done!
Written by Musa Rikhotso
by Lister Namumba
 GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly
 Editorial guidelines and principles for reporting on children in the media; http://184.108.40.206/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/A5_MediaBooklet_Ed_GX_Final_24Apr-2014_FINALTOBEPRINTED.pdf