Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulate Sowetan for its article, “Bullied boy tried to take own life (04/02/2020 p.6) and therefore gives it a GLAD[1] for meticulously protecting the identity of an 11-year-old boy suicide survivor.

The journalists, Yoliswa Sobuwa, relate through the boy’s grandmother how a grade six pupil from Boksburg, tried to take his own life at home. . The report also gives a detailed account of what happened when he came by from school on that said day. It also gives details of the steps she has taken by reporting the bullying to the school authority in 2015, which seems to have yielded little result as the bullying continued. The article does this all the while protecting the child’s identity by not naming him, his grandmother and the boy’s younger brother who is mentioned in the article.

By protecting the child’s identity both directly and indirectly, the journalist adhered to the highest standard of ethical reporting on children that is making sure the best interest of the child is paramount. The article also conforms to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles on Reporting on Children in the Media that encourages the protection of children’s identities especially when they are victims of abuse.

The Editorial Guidelines further explain that journalists should “Always respect children’s dignity and well-being. The dignity and rights of every child are to be respected in every circumstance”.[2] By allowing this level of privacy, the journalist afforded the family and more especially the boy much needed personal space and as a result a level of dignity that will allow him to heal without the glare of the public.

What also stands out about the article is that the journalist interviewed his grandmother instead of the boy, thus minimizing harm. Interviewing the boy could have caused him to relive the trauma of what he went through.

The article is informative as it points out to different cases of bullying in different school in Gauteng Province. In short, it puts bullying on the spotlight, which highlights difficulties some children are facing in a schooling environment.

MMA commends Sowetan, and more especially Yoliswa for ethical and sensitive reporting on a difficult matter involving a traumatized child.

By Ntsako Manganyi

[1] Every week Monday, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, they are referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”

[2] Editorial guidelines and principles for reporting on children in the media;