Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD to The Star for publishing a story by 9-years Aliyana who wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to hear tips on how better protect SA’s youngsters.
The Star, in an article titled, “A child’s plea to the president” (15/01/2020, p.4) reports a story about a girl who was previously kidnapped when she was 4-year old and thereafter abused. Aliyana has since started a YouTube channel to demand better support for children. She started the YouTube Channel because she wants other children like her, who were once kidnapped to know that they are not alone.
The publishing of this story helps to amplify children’s voices in the media. According to MMA’s media monitoring report findings, children are rarely given the opportunity to express their views in the media. Only 8.2% of coverage on children has children’s voices meaning that children are only speaking in that percentage of stories about them. The Star publishing the letter is a great opportunity accorded to the children involved to ensure that their voices and demands are heard. Furthermore, this article demonstrates a powerful portrayal of the child involved, transitioning from a victim to being an activist against abuse. This is contrary to how children are commonly portrayed in the media. MMA’s monitoring report shows that children are often seen as just children without agency or helpless victims. This story challenges this portrayal by showing that children can be represented differently according to the diverse roles they take up in their communities, such as in the story where Aliyana is portrayed as an activist.
In addition, MMA commends The Star for the picture by Timothy Bernard of African News Agency because it portrays the child as someone who is happy and has overcome difficult times experienced in the past.
However, MMA hopes that The Star got an informed consent from the child and the parents before publishing their details. it is important to note that media should not always assume that because her details are on YouTube it is okay to continue identifying her. Media should always seek and explain informed consent to parent and children they interviews so as to do what is in the best interest of the child and protect them against any further harm.
Despite the above concerns, MMA applauds The Star for publishing a story portraying the child in an empowering manner. We implore on the publication to continue portraying children in such a manner.
By Musa Rikhotso
 A GLAD is awarded when the media report positively on children