It is exciting to come across an article once in a while that reports on children in an empowering way and makes an effort to highlight children who succeed against all odds. One such article was “How young singer beat blood cancer” (The Times, 23/09/2013, p.6) by Katharine Child.

The article profiles a 17-year-old boy who was diagnosed with cancer when he was 13-years-old. It goes on to describe his ambitions and how he has managed to remain positive under his circumstances.This article is selected for a GLAD1 for a variety of reasons. Firstly it focuses primarily on the child and his achievements. It portrays him as a survivor rather than a victim of his circumstances. Shown in this way, the boy is seen as resourceful and positive-minded.

Secondly, Katharine retained the voice of the child throughout the piece. He is interviewed and allowed to share his experiences with the reader. For example, he was quoted as saying, “I am living proof that cancer can be beaten.”This further proves that children can be proactive and ambitious even in difficult situations. Of note, giving children a voice shows that they are “much more self-determining actors than we generally think.”2

Lastly, a picture of him, accompanying the article is equally powerful as he is shown playing a guitar. The picture together with the headline which tags him as a “young singer” and not the stereotypical “cancer patient” or “victim of cancer” make for an empowering and positive discourse on the child.

Media Monitoring Africa commends Katharine and The Times for the empowering portrayal of the child and for allowing the child to inspire those reading the article that children are survivors and can work towards their dreams even if they have had to deal with a health crisis like cancer.

By Joanne Walker.

1. On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise 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. Pufall, P. B., & Unsworth, R. P. (2004). The imperative and the process for rethinking childhood. In P. B. Pufall & R. P. Unsworth (Eds.), Rethinking childhood (pp. 1-21). New Brunswick, Canada: Rutgers University Press, (p. 8).