BANGKOK – A study conducted by Chulalongkorn University shows Children’s rights continue to be regularly violated in Thai newspapers and television news coverage, according to a media study supported by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Thailand released today.
The study, “How major Thai print and electronic media present news about children”, conducted by Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Communication Arts found that 21 per cent of the newspaper reports and 13 per cent of TV reports violated the rights of children.
The researchers sampled 1,800 items of news including news reports, photos, feature stories, editorials and TV coverage from three leading Thai language newspapers for 182 days and three TV stations for 48 days in 2012.
Of the sampled items, 1,513 were from newspapers and 287 were from TV coverage, according to Unicef.
Most violations were related to privacy, including the regular disclosure of the identities of children who were victims of abuse and those suspected of criminal activities, the study showed. — MORE
It said most of the violations revealed the names of the children or showed their faces, and many also revealed the names of their relatives, schools or home address.
It said many news reports were also found to misuse stock photos of identifiable children who had nothing to do with the content of the news item.
The second most frequent type of violation of child rights in the media was the use of sensational, provocative and/or inappropriate language or defamatory headlines when referring to child victims of crimes or the behaviour of children.
The study also notes that children who are involved in criminal activities or are victims of crimes are often brought to press conferences conducted by the authorities, in violation of their basic rights.
Of the violations, most were found in hard news reports, mainly in the crime section and front page of newspapers as well as during previews of headline news on TV.
The highest number of violations was found in reports related to child abuse, including sexual abuse, violence and children in conflict with the law.
According to the study, most news reports on children were incident-based, and that there were few reports that provide in-depth analysis or an exploration of possible solutions to the challenges that children in Thailand face.
Thai media are far more aware of children’s rights today than they were just a few years ago, but they still have a long way to go, said Bijaya Rajbhandari, the Unicef Representative for Thailand.
Violations of the fundamental rights of children to privacy and protection by the media were still far too common in Thailand, said Bijaya, who explained that these violations could have devastating consequences for the children involved.
Assistant Prof Pirongrong Ramasoota – a member of the research team – said that public monitoring could play an important role in changing the way media reported on children, but there were only eight complaints to the National Press Council of Thailand regarding violations of child rights from 2003 to 2012.
“Media self-regulation will not materialise without input from a media-literate public who can help monitor the media through appropriate channels,” said Pirongrong.
By Minggu Simon Lhasa