News24 does well to protect the identity of a child

When reporting on children, it is paramount to always consider the best interests of the child(ren), making sure that they are not exposed to harm or victimisation.

It is for this reason that Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is delighted to award a GLAD[1] of the week to News24 and their journalist, Ntwaagae Seleka, for well-considered reporting involving a child.

The article, titled, “‘The school betrayed us’: Mom demands justice after dreadlock drama ends in assault” (17 August 2023), relays a story of a pupil who was assaulted and harassed at a Johannesburg school by the school principal and her husband. The issue stems from a matter relating to the pupil’s hair, dreadlocks, of which the school deemed to be against school policies, and as such was expelled from the school for refusing to cut her hair.

In writing the article, the journalist made it a point to hide/conceal the identity of the child and her mother, to avoid direct and indirect identification of the child in a matter that has now being criminal, and where the child can be open for abuse, online and otherwise.

This kind of reporting is in line with the Press Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media[2] which states that the media shall “not identify children who have been victims of abuse or exploitation, or who have been charged with or convicted of a crime, without the consent of their legal guardians (or a similarly responsible adult) and the child (taking into consideration the evolving capacity of the child), a public interest is evident and it is in the best interests of the child”.

Additionally, MMA’s very own Editorial Guidelines on Reporting on Children[3] concurs with the press code on this principle, stating clearly that journalists ought to “always hide a child’s identity where the child might be at risk”.

Not stopping there, the journalist went on to inform/educate the readership on the reasons as to why the identities of the child and mother are concealed, an important aspect of responsible journalism.

In their article, the News24 journalist adhered to these ethical guidelines on reporting on children, and we commend them for the excellent work done in this this article. We urge News24 and their journalists to continue reporting responsibly and ethically, especially when it involves children.

Written By Azola Dayile

Edited by Ntombifuthi Kubeka

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them.


[3] (Page 3)