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Social Welfare admonishes journalists

By James Harry Obeng

 

THE Department of Social Welfare has asked journalists and media organisations to “always consider the best interest of the child” when reporting on children issues.

 

Mr Iddris Abdallah, United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) Consultant on Child Protection who made the appeal said the best interests of children should be protected over any other considerations.

 

He said journalistic activities that touched on the lives and welfare of children should be carried out with the appreciation of the vulnerability of children, Mr Abdallah said “journalists must be fully aware of the need to protect children and enhance their rights without damaging freedom of expression or interfering with the fabric of journalistic independence”.

 

He was interacting with journalists at a Media Training Workshop organised by Department of Social Welfare in collaboration with OrphanAid African  a child-centered issues in Accra.

 

He said in determining what constituted the best interests of children, journalists were to take particular notice of the child’s right to have his views taken into account “in accordance with the child’s age and maturity”.

 

Mr Abdallah was particularly concerned about reporting on children who, for no fault of theirs, have become or were once victims of circumstances, including children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, current and former child combatants, victims of sexual abuse or exploitation, perpetrators of physical or sexual abuse, among many others.

 

He said reporting those details would lead the public to identify such children often engendered stigmatisation and reprisals against them, causing some to suffer fatal consequences.

 

 “Avoid categorizations or descriptions that expose a child to negative reprisals, including additional or psychological harm, or lifelong abuse, discrimination or rejection by their communities”, he said.

 

Mr. Iddris, however, urged journalists to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards required to achieve excellence in terms of accuracy and sensitivity when reporting on issues involving children.

 

For her part, Mrs. Margaret Kutsoati, the director of the Department of Social Welfare, noted that it was becoming a common ritual to find advertisements in the media, especially on television, that use children or other pro – children effects to sell alcoholic beverages.

 

She said “in using children or cartoons to advertise alcoholic beverages, you are only telling them to experiment with such beverages which are not good for them”.

 

Mrs Kutsoati therefore called for collaboration between media owners and the Department of Social Welfare to halt exposing children to alcoholism via advertisements.

 

 

 

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November 7, 2008 - Posted by | News

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