Guidance for media reporting on child abuse and neglect Information and advice for journalists reporting cases of abuse in Northern Ireland
The media plays a vital role in reporting on child abuse and neglect and the operation of the child protection system. However any media scrutiny of a situation involving the death or injury of a child should also respect the rights and dignity of the children and the families involved.
This guidance aims to help journalists report child abuse in a way that will help the public better understand the issues involved. It provides background information about child protection and child neglect. It explains why reporting child abuse cases in the media needs to be done with care and sensitivity. It includes guidance for agencies working with children around engaging with the media.
Authors: Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers, BASPCAN, National Union of Journalists, www.thedetail.tv and NSPCC.
Good practice guidelines for reporting stories about children
The International Federation of Journalists (2009) has adopted a set of guidelines that underpin high journalistic standards to promote the sensitive reporting of children’s issues. This includes advice that journalists and media organisations should:
- Strive for standards of excellence in terms of accuracy and sensitivity when reporting on issues involving children.
- Avoid programming and publication of images which intrude upon the media space of children with information which is damaging to them.
- Avoid the use of stereotypes and sensational presentation to promote journalistic material involving children.
- Consider carefully the consequences of publication of any material concerning children and shall minimise harm to children.
- Guard against visually or otherwise identifying children unless it is demonstrably in the public interest.
- Ensure independent verification of information provided by children and take special care to ensure that verification takes place without putting child informants at risk.
- Avoid the use of sexualised images of children.
- Use fair, open and straight forward methods for obtaining pictures and, where possible obtain them with the knowledge and consent of children or a responsible adult, guardian or carer.
- Verify the credentials of any organisation purporting to speak for or to represent the interests of children.
- Not make payment to children for material involving the welfare of children or to parents or guardians of children unless it is demonstrably in the interest of the child.
Helpline highlight: Northern Ireland
Translating learning into action
NSPCC Youth Witness Service Remote Live Link
Child protection in Northern Ireland
Child protection in the UK
Our Current Awareness Service for Practice, Policy And Research delivers free weekly email alerts to keep you up-to-date with all the latest safeguarding and child protection news.
Follow us on Twitter and keep up-to-date with all the latest news in child protection.
We hold the UK's largest collection of child protection resources and the only UK database specialising in published material on child protection, child abuse and child neglect.
New in the Library
A free weekly email listing all of the new child protection publications added to our library collection.
Helping you keep children safe
Read our guide for professionals on what we do and the ways we can work with you to protect children and prevent abuse and neglect.
Impact and evidence
Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.
Get expert training and consultancy
Sharing knowledge to keep children safe
Read our guide to the NSPCC Knowledge and Information Service to find out how we can help you with child protection queries, support your research, and help you learn and develop.