By J. A. Nepomuceno
ILOILO City, Aug. 22 -– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Western Visayas warned members of the press not to oppress the rights of children in reporting news stories.
DSWD Regional Information Officer May R. Castillo said that the media serve as the agency’s partner in development, but stressed that irresponsible journalism could cause further trauma to abused and psychologically- ill children.
Castillo said fourth estate should help protect the rights of children including those in conflict with the law.
One example, she said, was the non-disclosure of identity of children involved in heinous crimes during reporting as prescribed under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act 9344).
The law, she explained, provides children an absolute right to privacy and violating such has corresponding penalties. The only exception to this rule is the matter involving missing children, she said.
The press was likewise prohibited from revealing information that would lead to the identity of the child or any member of his/her family, she added.
Records, materials and other evidence recovered or confiscated during rescue operations of child-victims were also considered classified or confidential, she said.
In order not to create conflict, Castillo encouraged the media to discuss issues surrounding the case rather than the personal circumstances of the child-victims. “Let us not treat the child’s life like a movie,” she stressed.
She also enjoined the press to report crimes of violence by or against children factually and seriously without passing judgment, stereotyping, or sensationalism.
Castillo said that focusing on investigative journalism relative to violations of children’s rights, and other issues relative to children’s safety would help tighten the partnership between agency and the press.(PNA)