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Journalists in Ghana have a new code of ethics to help them with reporting on children.

The code, “Making the Worth of Children Matter Through Reporting,” was created by Child Rights International, The National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association, according to Ghana news site Graphic Online. UNICEF helped fund its creation.

iMediaEthics obtained a copy of the guidelines from Child Rights International. In an opening statement, The National Media Commission’s chairman Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng called for the guidelines to be “an active part of every journalist’s toolbox, which will be deployed on a daily basis because child protection in the media is an ongoing everyday job without rest.” Child Rights International’s executive director Bright Kweku Appiah added that it wants to make sure “reporting on children doesn’t put them at any form of risk that could harm their social, physical, and psychological well being.”

The guidelines advise journalists to consider what’s best for the child, how the reporting will affect the child, and the child’s “rights, dignity, and respect.” The principles of the guidelines state:

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The guidelines address privacy, consent, and diversity, iMediaEthics notes.

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Specifically, journalists are advised to “avoid reporting on child abuse cases containing disturbing images, location or otherwise confidential information of the child.”

Other key points from the guidelines:

  • Avoid invading children’s privacy
  • Don’t defame, label, discriminate or stigmatize any children.
  • “Advocate for the protection of the privacy and dignity of children with special needs”
  • Get consent from parents, explain consent and allow children to later decide if they don’t want to be in the news
  • Don’t bribe or manipulate potential children sources or subjects
  • Don’t just cover the bad, but also “promote and report on positive achievements of children” to help “inspire other children in society to achieve same.”
  • “Report an adult perpetrator whose actions or inactions affect or risk the lives of children. “
  • Promote diversity and policies or laws that benefit children.
  • Don’t use images or videos that show children looking “sexually mature”, and don’t use images or video of children if it will harm them.

UNICEF Ghana’s Chief of Child Protection Johanna Eriksson Takyo said, Ghana News Agency reported, “Children have their right to have their story told in public, but it must be done with respet and with dignity.”

Takyo further explained why it’s important to be careful in covering children: “The pictures that are revealing the face and identity of the girl who has been trafficked or raped, the very detailed account of what happened to a child who was abused, the gory picture of a body of a child who died because of maltreatment” ends up harming victims even more, she said.

iMediaEthics has written to the National Media Commission, UNICEF Ghana and reached out to the Ghana Journalists Association’s president via Facebook for comment.

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