Permanent Secretary – Ms. Sharon Rattan
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
April 11, 2011 (CUOPM)
The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs is reminding media professionals in St. Kitts and Nevis of their responsibility towards protecting the rights and best interests of minors.
Permanent Secretary Ms. Sharon Rattan in a statement said the Ministry strongly condemns all forms of violence.
She said that the Ministry is abhorred at the recent disregard for human life as is evident in the recent upsurge of violent acts which have claimed three lives including a minor and that it is ready to assist the families of the victims and urged the community to work with the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Ms. Rattan said although it is important that the general public is kept informed of recent events and/or issues, the Ministry is of the view that while a feature and/or news article may lead to increased sales revenue, it should not be at the expense of any minor’s dignity, wellbeing and privacy.
“Sensationalism may entertain but often exploits children’s vulnerability,” said Rattan who urged media practitioners to “use discretion, and show sensitivity to children and desist from focusing articles on individual minors and placing pictures of minors in the media as this can make them targets and opens them up to potential danger.”
The Ministry also issued guidelines adopted by the International Federation of Journalists (May, 1998):
- 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 minimize harm to children;
- Guard against visually or otherwise identifying children unless it is demonstrably in the public best 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 sexualized images of children;
- Use fair, open and straight forward methods of obtaining pictures and, where possible, obtain then with the knowledge and consent of children or a responsible adult, guardian, or carer;
- Verify the credentials of any organization purporting to speak for or to represent the interests of children;
- and Not make payment to children for material involving the welfare of children, or to parents or guardians of children unless it is demonstrable in the interest of the child.