The National Network for Children published on August 12, 2014 a statement on the risks and vulnerability of children during media appearances.
Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) regulates the right of children to express their opinions and to involve in the decision making process, regarding their lives and development.
We welcome the inclusion of children’s perspective in news stories and reports. We believe that no one could orientate adults in what direction they should focus their efforts to help children better than the children and young people. The investment of time, resources and endeavor, could bring children’s opinion and participation to unexpected results while working with adults.
At the same time, the way that the media includes and represents children can affect their physical and mental health and the attitudes of the rest of society against them.
The actual reason for our statement is the interview with the daughters of the arrested boss of Sigma – Ivaylo Vasilev in “Good morning Bulgaria” on channel TV7, broadcasted on August 5, 2014.
We understand the desire of the family to present the way they live and the values in which their children are brought up as a counterpoint to the corruption allegations. At the same time we don’t approve a child, at the age of 14 years, to be asked if she thinks her father is guilty.
Showing children on television and asking such direct questions, especially when they are in a vulnerable situation, could lead to feelings of shame, guilt, anger and behavioral change in the child. We need to be aware that the display of the child’s privacy could affect its relationship with friends and classmates and how it will regain its place in the group.
We call on parents, guardians and representatives of the media to revolve carefully the consequences of publication of any material, regarding children, to minimize any possibility of damage for them.
We consider appropriate that the questions which are asked should be consistent with children’s age, the attitudes and principles of the UNCRC and art. 3 of the Law on Child Protection, to ensure the best interests of the child.
We advocate journalists and their organizations to comply with the Code of Ethics of the Bulgarian media and Guiding Principles for reporting on issues affecting children of the International Federation of Journalists and to maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior when covering topics related to children including:
- To avoid the use of stereotypes and sensational material to advertise journalistic information, including children;
- To avoid programs involvement and images publications, which burst into children’s media space with information, which could harm them and
- To protect children from their visual or other type of identification, unless it is manifestly in the public interest.
We are ready to support and consult every journalist and media representative, facing a situation, which arises hesitations whether certain subject is or is not a violation of children rights.
The National Network for Children encourages media to provide children and young people the opportunities to speak for themselves – about their hopes and fears for their achievements and the impact of adults behaviour on their lives thus reminding the public that children deserve respect as any human being.
Translator: Kristiyana Ognyanova, intern