Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a MAD to Daily Sun for an article in which a girl child who escaped death is interviewed where she recalls the trauma she went through thereby making her relive her ordeal.
The article titled, “KILLERS WANTED MY HEART!” (Daily Sun, 11/10/2018, p.1-2) reports on a 16-year-old girl who was attacked and stabbed in the chest and armpit by two men in Payneville, Springs. The girl would have been killed had three passers-by not arrived on the scene. The two attackers ran away from the scene but are being looked for by the police. A case of attempted murder has been opened. The article reports that the girl bled severely and had to have blood drained out “as she was bleeding internally”. Daily Sun interviews the child.
While MMA commends the journalist for not exposing the child’s identity by revealing her name or the mother’s name in an effort to seemingly protect her, we have serious concerns with the fact that the journalist interviewed her. MMA is of the view that protecting a child goes beyond just withholding her identity.
That the story mentions that the child “is still shocked”, one would expect Daily Sun to not put the child in a position where she would have to relive her trauma. Making a child recount and relive her traumatic experience potentially lengthens her healing process.
MMA believes that journalists should be cautious when it comes to having a child relate a traumatic encounter. This means, for instance, before the interview is conducted, the journalists have to make sure that the child has received adequate support and counselling from experts. This should be done to make sure the child has recovered significantly emotionally, psychologically and physically before an attempt to interview them. In addition to having the child go through counselling before the interview, a counsellor has to be present during the interview to put a stop to it should the child get traumatised.
When it comes to reporting stories involving children, we always refer journalists to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media. The Principles advise journalists to practise the following; “In interviewing and reporting on children, special attention is to be paid to their right to privacy and confidentiality, to participate in decisions affecting them, and to be protected from harm and retribution, even potential harm and retribution. A child should always be interviewed in a safe, comfortable and non-threatening environment”. Counselling beforehand and the presence of a counsellor during the interview contributes to a “safe, comfortable and non-threatening environment”.
We call upon Daily Sun to be cautious especially if a child has to be interviewed so as to not subject her to further trauma.
By Jacques Ndong
A MAD is given to the media for irresponsibly reporting on a child