Communicating with children

Guideline 4A

Reflect the dignity of each and every child and adult

Rationale:

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.

UNICEF Image

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:

  • Supporting students from ethnic minorities in starring or leadership roles of school-based dramas
  • Helping economically disadvantaged youth produce blogs for younger children in their communities
  • Presenting stories about parents with disabilities carrying their children to the market or school and pretending their wheelchairs are airplanes or boats
  • Producing dramas about poorer adolescents who have recently lost parents, teaching a more privileged child how to grieve and cope
  • Showing that children who are deaf and use sign language have and are proud of their own “deaf culture”

 

 Guideline 4A Guideline 4B   Guideline 4C  Guideline 4D


 

 

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