It is important to make a conscious effort to include all children, but it is equally important to pay attention to how they are included: in what types of communication, how they are presented, how others are presented in relation to them, etc. Often, communication developed for children, even in the most resource-poor countries, includes the most disadvantaged children as victims in need of help, and only in situations that portray their problems, difficulties, and what they need to change.
This applies to children affected by poverty, disability, living in emergencies, or those in need of special protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. Likewise, communication for children on topics ranging from hygiene, early learning or life skills include, as a matter of course, more boys than girls, more middle or upper-class children and children who are considered better-looking, rather than those who are average and more representative of a given community.
This misrepresentation needs to be changed. We must make a conscious effort to ensure that we do not reinforce already poor self-esteem or feelings of disparity among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and youth.
Positive Example: Reflecting the dignity of each and every child and adult
Happy to Be Nappy and other stories of Me (HBO television, USA) is a “family special” designed to promote self-confidence and respect for others. In it, each child celebrates her/his own uniqueness through animated stories or live action sequences. Included are African-American children, children with disabilities, a boy who likes to dance and stories about being strong when one is teased or bullied. Children themselves answer questions about how they cope and thrive.
Turning Theory into Practice
This guideline can be translated into communication in many ways, including showing positive adult/child interaction, for example:
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