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Thai media continues to violate children’s rights, including the regular disclosure of the identify of child victims

Thai media continues to violate children’s rights, including the regular disclosure of the identify of child victims

 

BANGKOK, 27 November 2014 – Children’s rights continue to be regularly violated in Thai

newspaper and television news coverage, according to a media study supported by UNICEF Thailand and released today.

 

The study, How major Thai print and electronic media present news about children, conducted by the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University found that 21 percent of the newspaper reports and 13 percent of TV reports violated the rights of children.

 

The researchers sampled 1,800 items of news including news reports, photos, feature stories, editorials and TV coverage from three leading Thai language newspapers for 182 days and three TV stations for 48 days in 2012. Of the sampled items, 1,513 were from newspapers and 287 were from TV coverage.

 

Most violations were related to privacy, including the regular disclosure of the identities of children who were victims of abuse and those suspected of criminal activities. Most of the violations revealed the names of the children or showed their faces. Many also revealed the names of their relatives, schools or home address. Many news reports were also found to misuse stock photos of identifiable children who have nothing to do with the content of the news item.

 

The second most frequent type of violation of child rights in the media was the use of sensational, provocative and/or inappropriate language or defamatory headlines when referring to child victims of crimes or the behavior of children.

 

The study also notes that children who are involved in criminal activities or are victims of crimes are often brought to press conferences conducted by the authorities, in violation of their basic rights.

 

Of the violations, most were found in hard news reports, mainly in the crime section and front page of newspapers as well as during previews of headline news on TV. The highest number of violations was found in reports related to child abuse, including sexual abuse, violence and children in conflict with the law.

 

According to the study, most news reports on children are incident-based, and that there are few reports that provide in-depth analysis or an exploration of possible solutions to the challenges that children in Thailand face.

 

“Thai media are far more aware of children’s rights today than they were just a few years ago. This is a good trend, but we still have a long way to go. Violations of the fundamental rights of children to privacy and protection by the media are still far too common in Thailand,” said Bijaya Rajbhandari, the UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “These violations can have devastating consequences for the children involved and it is the responsibility of everyone involved in the news-making process to be aware of and sensitive to the rights of these children. This includes not only the reporters and authorities, but also photographers, sub-editors and editors.”

 

Asst. Prof. Pirongrong Ramasoota – a member of the research team – said that public monitoring can play an important role in changing the way media reports on children, but that there were only eight complaints to the National Press Council of Thailand regarding violations of child rights from 2003 to 2012.

 

“Media self-regulation will not materialize without input from a media-literate public who can help monitor the media through appropriate channels. This includes the complaints-handling process of professional media organizations such as the National Press Council of Thailand,” said Asst. Prof. Pirongrong.  “It is critical that professional media organizations make themselves publicly known and try to encourage public participation in media scrutiny.  Otherwise, the entire self-regulation process will be completely useless.”

 

Download summary of the study: http://www.unicef.org/thailand/media_23282.html

 

For further information, please contact:

Alistair Gretarsson, UNICEF Thailand, 02 356 9481 or 092 256 2418 or agretarsson@unicef.org

Nattha Keenapan, UNICEF Thailand, 02 356 9478 or 086 616 7555 or nkeenapan@unicef.org

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