Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Issues Involving Children
These guidelines were first adopted in draft by journalists organisations from 70 countries at the world's first international consultative conference on journalism and child rights held in Recife, Brazil, on May 2 nd 1998. After regional conferences and workshops they were finally adopted at the Annual Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Seoul in 2001. The guidelines were presented by the IFJ at the 2nd World Congress against Commercial Exploitation of Children held at Yokohama, Japan, in December 2001.
Informed, sensitive and professional journalism is a key element in any media strategy for improving the quality of reporting concerning human rights and society. The daily challenge to journalists and media organisations is particularly felt in coverage of children and their rights.
Although the human rights of children have only recently been defined in international law, the United Nations Convention on the rights of the Child is already so widely supported that it will shortly become the first universal law of humankind.
To do their job of informing the public effectively, journalists must be fully aware of the need to protect children and to enhance their rights without in any way damaging freedom of expression or interfering with the fabric of journalistic independence. Journalists must also be provided with training to achieve high ethical standards.
The following guidelines for journalists have been drawn up by the International Federation of Journalists on the basis of an extensive survey of codes of conduct and standards already in force across the world. The purpose is to raise media awareness of children's rights issues and to stimulate debate among media professionals about the value of a common approach which will reinforce journalistic standards and contribute to the protections and enhancement of children's rights.
All journalists and media professionals have a duty to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards and should promote within the industry the widest possible dissemination of information about the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and its implications for the exercise of independent journalism.
Media organisations should regard violation of the rights of children and issues related to children's safety, privacy, security, their education, health and social welfare and all forms of exploitation as important questions for investigations and public debate. Children have an absolute right to privacy, the only exceptions being those explicitly set out in these guidelines.
Journalistic activity which touches on the lives and welfare of children should always be carried out with appreciation of the vulnerable situation of children.
The following statement was also endorsed at the Recife Media and Child Rights Conference:
"The IFJ is deeply concerned at the creation of paedophile Internet sites and the fact that certain media publish or broadcast classified advertisements promoting child prostitution.
The IFJ calls on its member unions to:
intervene with media owners over the publication or broadcasting of these advertisements;
to campaign with public authorities for the elimination of these sites and advertisements."
Journalists and media organisations shall strive to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in reporting children's affairs and, in particular, they shall
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;
give children, where possible, the right of access to media to express their own opinions without inducement of any kind;
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.
Journalists should put to critical examination the reports submitted and the claims made by Governments on implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in their respective countries.
Media should not consider and report the conditions of children only as events but should continuously report the process likely to lead or leading to the occurrence of these events.
Seoul, June 11-15, 2001