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] in articles 13 and 7 respectively, is one of the most important rights that should be respected and promoted not only by government departments, schools, and society but by media as well.

However, the aforementioned right was not respected by Daily Sun as the publication failed to access children for their views in a story that is about them and has a direct impact on their well-being.

Back to school worries!” (Daily Sun, 25/07/2021) reports on parents who are worried about the high Covid-19 infections and that children are at risk of being infected when they return to school. This after the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga announced the reopening of schools.

The failure by media to give children a voice in coverage of the children is not unusual and has in fact been shown in countless Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) reports. For example, previous research conducted in 2020 shows that children were accessed in only seven percent of stories about the children in 2020.[3]

 MMA believes that society needs to hear more of children’s voices in the media about how they are affected by for instance, Covid-19, their struggles, feelings, views, and beliefs. We further believe that children should speak in media coverage of issues facing them as that is one of the surest ways to get to duty bearers and policy makers for the creation of effective interventions. Being given a platform to speak in media coverage of them will help empower the children to speak more on the issues that affect them and potentially enhance their decision making skills. In addition, other children will also be inspired by hearing their peers’ voices in the media.

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

Written by Musa Rikhotso

Edited by Lister Namumba

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

[2] https://www.unicef.org/esaro/African_Charter_articles_in_full.pdf

[3] https://mediamonitoringafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/2020childrensreport.pdf