Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a MAD to the article “Cape pupils in hot water after an attack on classmate goes viral” (Daily Voice, 05/03/2018) published via IOL, which accesses a traumatised teen.
The story is about a 17-year-old pupil who was assaulted by fellow pupils in the Cape Flats. According to the article, fellow classmates filmed the incident and the video has since been shared over 1000 times.
Daily Voice reports that the drama started at a party in the boy’s community where he tried to break up a fight involving a group of boys. The article states that the child then started receiving threatening messages the following day and was then attacked at school.
While the article withholds the child’s identity in a deliberate effort to protect him, it failed to do so adequately.
The journalist describes the child as traumatised yet quotes him describing the ordeal. By doing this, Daily Voice failed to minimise harm to the child by interviewing him therefore subjecting him to potential secondary trauma.
MMA argues that making children recount traumatic experiences fails to promote their best interests as this is done in the absence of a trained counsellor who has the skills to assess whether a child is fit enough to speak on that particular matter.
Further to being subjected to potential secondary trauma, making children relive their traumatic experiences can lengthen their healing process. Journalists and editors therefore need to consider the possible repercussions of their actions for children in these circumstances.
MMA urges Daily Voice and IOL to adhere to ethical guidelines and principles when reporting on stories of this nature and to always aim to promote the best interests of the child.
We remind all journalists to always be cautious to avoid possible secondary trauma by interviewing vulnerable children.
By Musa Rikhotso