Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) commends Daily Sun for brilliantly reporting on a story that involves minors. The story titled, “Girl boiling water horror” (10/02/2021) is awarded a GLAD because of the way it was reported as well as for protecting the identity of the child victim involved.
The article by Aaron Dube is about a 12-year-old girl, who according to her father, was poured boiling water on her neck by their neighbour. According to the story, the child went to play with the neighbour’s children but they threw stones at her. In order to threaten them, the girl picked up a knife at her home but the neighbouring children’s father took the knife from the child and poured boiling water on her neck.
What is good about the way the story is reported, is the fact that the identities of all children involved were protected and although the story is told by the victim’s father, there are no common slip ups by the media of revealing the children’s identities indirectly through their parents.
The story comes with a picture of the injured 12-year-old taken from the back. Only the girl’s back can be seen in the photo thus ensuring that the child’s identity is sufficiently protected. The report also goes an extra mile to explain that the father “cannot be named to protect the minor”.
This sufficient protection of the child’s identity 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”.
Apart from the preservation of the rights to privacy and dignity, withholding the identity of the child will go a long way in preventing potential victimisation that might come as a result of being identified in the media.
SAPS member from Mamelodi police confirmed in the article that the accused was arrested and was expected to appear in court. This means that the identities of all the children involved in the story who are also potential witnesses at criminal proceedings, were protected as stipulated by Section 154 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Act.
Further, not revealing the identities of the children in the media who are involved in such stories on crime or abuse committed against children protects them from potential harm such as retribution or to be kept from testifying in court.
Daily Sun evidently reported this story in the best interests of all the children involved, especially the 12-year-old victim and this is in line with Section 28 (2) of the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution. The Section states, “A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.”
MMA congratulates Daily Sun for this encouraging coverage of a story involving children and looks forward to more articles such as this one that are ethically reported and are in the best interests of children.
By Ntsako Manganyi
 GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly
 Editorial guidelines and principles for reporting on children in the media; http://126.96.36.199/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/A5_MediaBooklet_Ed_GX_Final_24Apr-2014_FINALTOBEPRINTED.pdf
Below is Daily Sun‘s response to the commentary;
At Daily Sun we ensure that we interrogate stories that affect children vigorously, especially in cases where the minors have already experienced harm and/or are victims of crime. It is vital to hide the identity of children to avoid causing them any further harm and to abide by our country’s laws. The said article was meant to highlight cruelty and criminality against the vulnerable child, hence the effort we took to hide all the information that could have exposed her identity.