Guidelines for reporting on children
- Do not further stigmatize any child; avoid categorisations or descriptions that expose a child to negative reprisals - including additional physical or psychological harm, or to lifelong abuse, discrimination or rejection by their local communities.
- Always provide an accurate context for the child's story or image.
- Always change the name and obscure the visual identity of any child who is identified as:
a. A victim of sexual abuse or exploitation,
b. A perpetrator of physical or sexual abuse,
c. HIV positive, or living with AIDS, unless the child, a parent or a guardian gives fully informed consent,
d. Charged or convicted of a crime,
e. A child combatant, or former child combatant who is holding a weapon or weapons.
- In certain circumstances of risk or potential risk of harm or retribution, change the name and obscure the visual identity of any child who is identified as:
a. A former child combatant who is not holding a weapon but may be at risk,
b. An asylum seeker, a refugee or an internal displaced person.
- In certain cases, using a child's identity - their name and/or recognizable image - is in the child's best interests. However, when the child's identity is used, they must still be protected against harm and supported through any stigmatization or reprisals.
Some examples of these special cases are:
a. When a child initiates contact with the reporter, wanting to exercise their right to freedom of expression and their right to have their opinion heard.
b. When a child is part of a sustained programme of activism or social mobilization and wants to be so identified.
c. When a child is engaged in a psychosocial programme and claiming their name and identity is part of their healthy development.
- Confirm the accuracy of what the child has to say, either with other children or an adult, preferably with both.
- When in doubt about whether a child is at risk, report on the general situation for children rather than on an individual child, no matter how newsworthy the story.