‘Need to look at issues concerning children with more sensitivity’

The need for sensitive reporting and effectively looking at issues concerning children and their rights came under the spotlight at a media and child rights seminar organised by the Asian College of Journalism in collaboration with the Unicef on Wednesday.

Moderating a session on “Reporting on children from a gender lens: ethics and guidelines for journalists,” Kavita Chowdhury, an independent journalist, said the coverage on children was inconsistent and lacked depth. “There is a need to go beyond the routine and look at many stories around us with a humanitarian angle,” she said.

“If an incident involving children is important, so is the context. Reporters need to give a holistic picture without judgment. If you look at any problem without focusing on the context, you will do more of a disservice,” said journalist Ashwaq Masoodi, addressing the students from ACJ.

Drawing from her experience, Ms. Masoodi spoke about her interactions with children from a juvenile home and how important it was to speak a different language — a sensitive one to communicate with them.

Speaking about menstruation, sanitation facilities in schools, female foeticide and child marriages, Kavitha Muralidharan, an independent journalist, said that most reports at the moment were largely incident-based and these needed to be seen as broader issues.

“The media needs to keep in mind and follow several basics — such as not mentioning the name of the survivor. It is important to be effective and responsible voices for children to highlight their issues,” she said.

Pooja Nair, a psychotherapist, stressed on the need to talk of gender and sexuality in an open, expansive way and that gender should be a part of conversations about child rights.

“Children who do not conform know that they are different but this means that they internalise the idea that they are different in a bad way. This is what the regime of gendering results in the internalisation of shame,” she said.

Speaking during a session about “Communicating with children during emergencies and experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sonal Kapoor, founder, Protsahan India Foundation, questioned if it was too much to expect basic empathy from the government and the system towards children.

“We need to pass the mic on to children and listen to them, and look at the community in which they are surviving in at a time like this, during a pandemic. We think we know better, but as a society, we are only now learning,” she said.

Nandini Raman, a consultant counsellor, said while the pandemic had been hard on everyone, children had it even harder but had managed to show resilience.

“There has been a significant rise in the number of parents who have come to us to speak to their children during the pandemic. We need to talk to our children and tell them it is okay for them to get help. While privileged children know they can get help, there is a large section of children who can’t access this. For many others, stigma still outweighs everything else,” she said.

At a time when education and learning have largely gone online over the last 10 months, S. Gomathi, director, AhaGuru, spoke about how teachers had to adapt to the new normal.

“The classroom atmosphere cannot be replicated as it is online. Teachers are coming up with ways to ensure students participate and engage them,” she said. She shed light on how, through AID India, they were reaching out to students in rural areas and addressing issues of lack of access.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 4:19:08 AM |

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