Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulates News24 on its well reported story titled, “‘Our boy is not doing well’: Family of toddler burnt with boiling water at creche struggle with medical bills” (24/04/2023). The article written by Iavan Pijoos receives a GLAD because the identity of the child involved is withheld to protect the child from further potential harm.
The story reports on a toddler who suffered severe injuries to his body after he was reportedly assaulted with boiling water at a day-care centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg in 2021. The adult allegedly behind the vicious attack is on trial facing a couple of charges. The article goes on further to say that for safety reasons, the name of the grandmother who is interviewed could not be revealed. This explanation as to why the identity of the child could not be directly or indirectly revealed qualified the story for a GLAD as MMA always urges the media to withhold identities in such stories and to provide explanations to their audiences.
MMA commends News24 for protecting the indirect and direct identification of the child in the story. By not naming the child or his grandmother, the journalist is in line with section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Act which states the following, “No person shall before, during or at any stage after the conclusion of criminal proceedings, in any manner, including on any social media or electronic platform publish any information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused who is or was under the age of 18 years at the time of the alleged commission of an offence; a witness who is or was under the age of 18 years at the time of the alleged commission of an offence”
The protection of children’s rights in the media is of utmost importance, media can play an instrumental role to protect and promote children’s rights by their coverage. Journalists need to understand that any abuse of a child in the media can be a lifetime trauma. In this article the child victim can become a witness and still coping with what happened to him, therefore the journalist did well to withhold the child’s identity.
Withholding the child’s identity is in line with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media. The Guidelines emphasise on the following, “In all stories where identifying the child may cause harm, be sure to avoid indirect identification of the child through showing family, a school, residence, friends or a combination thereof.”
We gladly notice that News24 also adhered to the Press Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media which in Section 8.3, clearly deals with the protection of identities of children who have been victims of abuse or exploitation.
We also would like to applaud News24 for this follow up on a story which was previously in the media. It is very rare that such kind of stories involving children get follow-up coverage so well done, News24!
MMA encourages News24 to always practice such good journalism when reporting on matters that involve children.
Written by Jacques Ndong
Edited by Ntombifuthi Kubeka
 GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them