Children Should Be Protected by Discussion and Accountability of the Media, and Not By “Keeping Children Under a Glass Bell”
A Conference titled “Protection of Children from Inappropriate Television Content” was organized in Sarajevo by the Communications Regulatory Agency of BiH (CRA), UNICEF and Save The Children Norway. Pedagogues, psychologists, representatives of TV stations and other media attending the conference discussed the following subjects: Media and Child Rights; Protection of Children and Juveniles and Role of Regulators; Scenes of Violence and Their Effect on Children; European Content Rating and Identification Practices; and Content Identification on TV stations in BiH. These subjects were presented by some of the most renowned experts in their respective fields.
In his opening address, Kemal Huseinović, Director of the Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA), noted the importance of cooperation in protecting children from inappropriate television content. He said that it was important that the CRA, as a regulator, remained in contact with authorities and television broadcasters to ensure a timely response so that inappropriate shows cannot reach children and so as to avoid the need for subsequent regulation and possible fines. Mr. Huseinović stressed that broadcasting of inappropriate content was a very rare occurrence in BiH. When such a thing happens, citizens immediately report this to the CRA, which then takes corrective measures and carries out procedures to identify any breaches of the code and rules, and then imposes appropriate penalties.
- I believe that, judging from the number of complaints received by the Agency during the past few years, we could give a passing grade to our broadcasters - Huseinović said, adding that the greatest responsibility rested on editorial policies and editorial teams of electronic broadcasters.
Saliha Đuderija of the BiH Ministry for Human Rights said that the suppression of the negative impact that inappropriate television content had on children first required identification of the problem, and then development of a plan and strategy.
- BiH authorities must seek methods to ensure the best possible protection for children. We have a lot of phenomena of which we have no prior experience. What the Communications Regulatory Agency is doing is very important to us and stands as one of the bright examples of how some new standards may be applied, unlike our national laws – Đuderija said.
In her introduction, Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative, expressed her pleasure that a conference on this subject was held at the very week when the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was being marked.
- The media, and television in particular, have a great role in education. Children develop their own values based on what they see on television and learn how to communicate in this way, while younger children often think that anything they see on TV is acceptable. Through the media, children today are exposed to various attitudes and behaviors, as well as to violence, sexuality, gender stereotyping, drug and alcohol-related themes – Florence Bauer noted, adding that numerous studies had shown that children exposed to such shows were at a risk of falling under their influence.
- It is precisely this that is contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, because the Convention clearly says that children must be protected from any form of violence – Bauer said, underlining that there was no magic wand to solve this problem; rather, the entire society was responsible for setting standards and the regulator was responsible for making sure these standards were implemented.
The representative of Save the Children, Andrea Žeravčić, said that one of the priorities of this organization was to provide support to the development of a state-level strategy for protecting children from violence, and added that violence was on a continuous increase, both in streets and at home.
- Violence in the media is increasingly explicit, sadistic and sexually oriented. Antisocial behavior is on the increase, while violence is more and more accepted as a legitimate method of conflict resolution. The media have a responsibility to protect the integrity of children and shield them from violence and pornography – Andrea Žeravčić cautioned.
Jasna Bajraktarević, a psychology professor at the Pedagogical Faculty of the University of Sarajevo, noted that children start perceiving content broadcast on television already at age one.
- Content should be broadcast with a prior warning about parental guidance. Children should be given an appropriate explanation for what they see on the television set, and they should in no case be held under a glass bell because once they step out in the street they will face a harsh reality. Children should be spoken to using simple words, explaining why something is good and why something is not good – Jasna Bajraktarević said, stressing that it was important to talk to both parents and teachers.
- It is better to miss one hour as per the curriculum to be able to discuss an event that has happened so that children can properly understand it and make their own judgment – Professor Bajraktarević said.
Pedagogues, psychologists, representatives of TV stations and other media attending the conference discussed the following subjects: Media and Child Rights; Protection of Children and Juveniles and Role of Regulators; Scenes of Violence and Their Effect on Children; European Content Rating and Identification Practices; and Content Identification on TV stations in BiH. These subjects were presented by some of the most renowned experts in their respective fields.