A child’s right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[1] and of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC)[2] articles 13 and 7 respectively, is one of the most important rights that should be respected and promoted. This should not only be done by government departments, schools and society but by media as well. Such was not the case with TimesLIVE as the publication failed to access children for their views in an article about them.

Teen heroes save child from drowning in Eastern Cape” (TimesLIVE, 23/08/2020) reports on four children from Port Alfred who reportedly saved an 11-year-old child who was swept by the sea currents. This was a brave rescue by the four teenagers as they all risked their lives to save the life of the 11-years old. The article portrays them positively as heroes.

While TimesLIVE should be commended for this positive portrayal, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) cannot help but frown at the media’s failure to interview these children and include their voices to the article. Because of this, TimesLIVE missed an opportunity to promote their rights to speech and participation.

We always urge journalists to access children in all positive stories that involve the children and when in the children’s best interest. This contributes massively to ensuring that the voices of children are heard in the media because according to previous researches done by MMA, children’s voices are still neglected in media coverage of them.[3]

MMA encourages reporters to show initiative when reporting on children and include their voices when they are being featured in positive articles. We look forward to hearing children speak in such stories in future.

By Musa Rikhotso

[1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[2] https://au.int/sites/default/files/documents/30913-doc-acrwc-en.pdf

[3] http://bonabana.co.za/#/top-findings