Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), a Canadian NGO based in Freetown yesterday held a one day workshop for print, radio and television reporters at Santano House in Central Freetown.
The main focus of the workshop was to provide journalists with knowledge of children’s issues and rights, explore ethical concerns related to using children as sources, and offer an opportunity to work on reporting skills that contribute to clear and compelling stories about children.
The session was facilitated by two guest speakers- Addir Surrur Coordinator of Voice of the Children on UN Radio, and Issa Davies, staff of UNICEF.
According to UNICEF’s report, children and young people have the same rights as adults. They have the right to be protected from harm. Reporting on children and young people carries added dimension and restriction, especially in the current era when it is near – impossible to limit a story’s reach. The reports on children and other documents are meant to support the best intentions of ethical reporters- serving the public’s interest for truth without compromising the rights of children. In some instances the art of reporting on children places them at the risk of retribution or stigmatization.
In the guidelines for interviewing children, it was stated that journalists must do no harm to any child; avoid questions, attitudes or comments that are judgmental, insensitive to cultural values that place a child in danger or expose a child to humiliation, or that reactivates a child’s pain and grief from traumatic events.
It also states that as journalists, permission should be obtained from the child and his/her guardian for all interviews, videotaping, and where possible, for documentary photographs.
According to Addie Surrur Coordinator of children’s voice on UN radio a child has over 40 rights including protection and education. She added that the media has an important role to play in the life of the child by giving them voice to speak.
Agatha Levi the coordinator of children for Sky Radio advised journalists not to threaten the child when interviewing them. She also said as a reporter, children must not be discriminated despite their background. All children have the right to express their views on what they think, say or do she added. Issa Davies stated that as journalists it is our responsibility to work with children, protect their interests and to protect them from stigmatization.