Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards TimesLIVE a GLAD for ethically reporting an issue which involves minors.
The story titled, “36 pupils suspended for ‘smoking dagga’ at Gauteng school” (22/04/2022) is about a video that went viral on social media platforms where learners from a Gauteng school could be seen smoking “dagga” reportedly on school grounds. According to the story, all 36 learners were suspended and are awaiting a hearing. The article reports that Gauteng MEC, Panyanza Lesufi visited the school and announced that a criminal case would be instituted against the offending learners. A video of Lesufi addressing learners at the school is included in the article but it does not show any of the children in a seemingly deliberate effort to protect the identities of the children who were being addressed. Further, the children who were smoking are not identified in the article or in the accompanying screengrabs from the video.
It is commendable that the journalist goes all out to protect the identities of the learners who appeared in the video. The article includes the statement, “Video footage shared on social media – which is not being published by TimesLIVE due to the involvement of minors…”.
MMA applauds TimesLIVE for sufficiently protecting the children’s identities as showing them could have led to potential victimisation, retribution, etc. This is in line with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media which always urge the media to, “always respect children’s dignity and wellbeing”.
Furthermore, protecting the identities of children in such a story is in adherence to the Criminal Procedure Act Section 154 (3) especially that the article reports that a criminal case is to be opened.
TimesLIVE reports this story in the best interest of all the children involved. This is in line with Section 28 (2) of the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution. This section states that, “A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child”.
MMA hopes that TimesLIVE will continue to practice such good reporting when it comes to children and that other media will emulate this.
Written by Girlie Sibanda
Edited by Lister Namumba
 A GLAD refers to an ethically reported article where the rights and welfare of children have been promoted.