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High Court appointed committee submits report on media guidelines

Aug 10, 2012

A committee of child rights activists and government authorities working with children today submitted a report to the Delhi High Court, stipulating the restraints the media must exercise in covering issues pertaining to children.

The Delhi High Court today approved the guidelines for media reporting on children. The report stipulates various the dos and donts for journalists reporting and writing on matters concerning children. These also include various curbs, including not divulging and revealing the identity of a child, particularly child victims in their writing or covering stories of sexual offences, elopement and drug abuse.

The committee, appointed by the Delhi High Court in February this year, submitted the guidelines before a bench of the acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw.

The committee, comprised of the Principal Magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board, a member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, representatives of NGOs and a nominee from the Press
Council of India.

In its report submitted to the high court, the committee said the media should keep in mind the privacy, dignity, physical and emotional development of the children while covering any news involving them.

The hoping that the media would ensure that a child's identity is not revealed in any manner, including but not limited to, disclosure of personal information, photograph, school or locality and information of
the family including their residential or official address, the committee urged media to exercise restrain on the sensitive issue, while recognising the rights of the child.

However, the guidelines fall far short of the expectations of many civil rights activists. For instance, there is no mention of the encouragement the media can provide for the protection of children from harmful
influences through the media. Besides, while the guidelines the committee has put up have come from specific references put before it, it has failed to look for the media's role in improving the image of the
child through media coverage.

Interestingly, the role of the media has often been discussed -- often for its healthy attributes -- in the realms of the debate on the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

While the recommendations will be valid for the entire country, there are some other aspects that the committee seems to have missed -- the issue of how the media should report on child soldiers involved in the Maoists' fight against the state is a case in point.


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