For a long time now, all over the world, children have been abused in one way or another. There are different culprits to this vice including the parents (Lawrence, 2004). This is against the rights of children. The mass media is the fourth arm of the government. The way the media portrays something may to a large effect contributes to the perception that the general society is going to adopt. It can assist in developing a remedy to a certain social evil or can justify the existence of one. The way a certain article (that talks on a given issue) is portrayed, the language used, and the weight that it is given will influence the way people perceive the issue at hand. This paper takes a look at the role that the media has played in child abuse discouragement or encouragement.
The paper will use the analysis gotten from various media reports in the world and analyze the effect that the article on child abuse may have on society in general. In the end, I will give a recommendation about the observation I have gotten.
Articles that have reported about Child Abuse
On April 29, 2010, the New York Times reported a case that was unfolding about sexual abuse of children by the priests in the Catholic Church (Donadio, 2010 April 27). The media was the one that gave the situations of the case. In this instance, the newspaper article writer condemned the act and asked the pope to react to it. In the same spirit, the pope got pressure from the media and on May 11, 2010, an article in the same newspaper gave the proceedings of the case and the pope came out clear condemning the act. The media here is the one that did give the church the pressure to admit the act. By doing this, the solution to the vice is seen from the efforts of the media (Donadio, 2010 May 11).
The Roanoke Times on May 14, 2010, reported a case of a woman who had been sentenced to 10year imprisonment when she was proved guilty of beating a child- girl. She pleaded guilty and the Alleghany County Circuit Court, proclaimed the sentence. The reporter of the case goes further and says that this was the harshest punishment ever. The names of the culprit and the victim were not revealed. This is seen as a regulation of the media by the media laws. The way the reporter expressed the article showed the seriousness that the government is taking child abuse with. By this the report will act as a deterrent way to any other potential culprit. There is also the creation of awareness in the society that buttering the child is a crime punishable by law. The media here as the information dispenser is assisting to reduce child abuse. The article was so clear and reported that it was the mother who had been sentenced this long for a fatal abuse of her child. What the report is trying to say is that the law applies even to the very owners of the child. I like the word fatal; it has been used by the reporter to give the impression that the law does not prohibit the parent from disciplining the child, but it should not be a fatal punishment (Mother gets 10 years in fatal abuse of girl (2010, May 14).
Kweyu (2010 May 11) posted an article in Nation Daily in Kenya where he gave a sad story of a dad who had raped his own child. This is something that the society does not entertain. The entire article gave the story as if it was an imaginary thing, without the name of the offender or the victim. By this the reporter is seen bound by the laws of the country that regulate the media personality. The language that the reporter uses is the one that condemns the issue. He talks with sympathy to the young child. He uses the words like ‘ruined life’, in the effort to appeal to the public that the act is criminal and condemned. The article goes ahead and gives an analysis of the probable punishment that the culprit is likely to get. By this the media in the country, though bound by the law, is trying to educate the general public about the dangers that are involved with such an act. It is analyzing the effect that the rape has on the child as well as the probable punishment that the father may get. The mother of the child is also not spared and she shows that she is now willing to live her life alone, this gives the danger that child abuse can have on the family in general. The recommendation that the reporter gives among others is that there should be early sex education as well as an advice to the mother that they should be fully responsible for their children, not even trust the father with it. If these recommendations were to be implemented, the rate of child violence and abuse by the fathers and neighbors would be reduced. This is an educational article that shows the work of the fourth arm of the government.
In South Africa, Wynberg (2010 Apr 25) reported in the Times Live a report that was structured in away to open a dialogue in the country. He asks the people whether they are proud of the continuous child abuse. The reporter gives an analysis of the pain that the child undergoes when subjected to abuse. There was a picture that was in the article supporting the discussion; in the photo, there was a child who looked depressed and lost in thoughts. The photo was by Pinyana Michael. The discussion and the language that the article held were meant to open awareness to the general public of the need to take care of the child. The article is giving an inner analysis of the pain that a child gets when abused. This is through the photo.
As observed by Camilla (2007 August 23), London had a similar idea with the South African reporter when he wrote an article asking the people what they thought was fair punishment. He goes further to give the government understanding of what punishment is. In the article, he opens a door of dialogue to the public to evaluate what they call normal punishment. By this the reporter is enlightening the public. When the public is enlightened, the rate at which children are punished will be reduced. This is the work of the media. There should be even more of such articles to open the mind of the people to this vice that has for long prevailed in the society.
Observations / Recommendations
People all over the world have different views on whether a child should be punished or not. There are those who see the media overstepping its mandate when it reports incidences of child abuse. There is also the media regulation that may limit the extent to which the media reports these incidences. One of the ways that the media regulation protects the media from doing is revealing the names of the child abuser. These keep protecting the one who committed the crime. The reporting should be done and it is important to respect the privacy of the child involved. However, there should be well laid measures to ensure that the culprit is punished according to the law of the concerned country. If this is attained then the public will be more willing to report these incidences (Frost Nick Child Welfare, 2005). This way the privacy of the child will be protected and the culprit punished.
The media has a great role to play in preventing crime in the world. The more time and weight that they give to the cases will assist in enlightening the masses on the danger that they are exposing the children to. There is though a challenge that the media after reporting the cases, do not follow up to see whether the culprit is punished or not. The media is the one that is more close to the people and thus various programs should be run in them, teaching the masses the rights of the child.
Camilla C. (2007). Guilty of child abuse! (Well, our version.). Times Online
Donadio, R. (2010). Pope Issues His Most Direct Words to Date on Abuse. New York Times
Donadio, R. (2010). Future Pope’s Complex Role In Abuse Case In Austria. New York Times
Frost Nick Child Welfare (2005). Child abuse and child protection: major themes in health and social welfare. Volume 2 New York: Taylor & Francis
Kweyu, D. (2010). When Dad Becomes A Monster. Daily Nation
Lawrence, A. (2004). Principles of child protection: management and practice. New York: McGraw-Hill International
Mother gets 10 years in fatal abuse of girl (2010). The Roanoke Times
Wynberg, H. J. (2010). Are we proud of this child abuse? Times live