Members of the media got a stern warning yesterday after officials from the National Child Protection Council in conjunction with Committee on Families and Children sought to warn the media to protect the identity of children who are involved in incest.
Just recently, the media reported on the identity of a man who has been charged with incest.
Some media houses showed the man’s face and others decided not to report on his identity.
During a special forum meeting with the media, Chairman of Committee on Families and Children Cleopatra Christie said the identity of the child victim should always be protected.
And this means not identifying the perpetrator or victim, their addresses or anything that could remotely identify the victim.
“How do children cope? Do they ever cope from this when they’re exposed? Victims-children need to trust who they turn to for help – teachers, churches, the police, the courts and the social workers. Children rely on them to protect their identity.
Otherwise we run the danger of these same or other victims not coming forward with creditable complaints. A child’s fear is always who will find out. They fear the thought of their teachers, friends, neighbours and classmates. Do they want the details to be known? Can you imagine those details about their bodies being exposed? Therefore the disclosure of the victims, names, addresses, schools, the daycare centre the name of the parents or the offending family member for example a mother or father should never be disclosed,” Ms. Christie said.
To support her claim, Ms. Christie referred to the Child Protection Act 2009.
She also spoke about the punishments for media houses if too much information about the perpetrator or victim is released.
“It shall be offense for anyone to publish any material that is intended or is likely to identify any child that has been involved in any proceedings before the court. Anyone who commits the offense is liable to a summary conviction not exceeding $5,000 or an imprisonment of 12 months or both. So that’s how serious the law takes it,” Ms. Christie said.
Deputy Chairman National Child Protection Council Dr. Novia Carter asked reporters to put themselves in the shoes of the victim and the perpetrator.
“We need to find a way to get the story out without raping the child all over again,” she said.
“In our country, everyone knows everyone. So as soon as you put a name out there and even though some media houses may not say the name and you may say dependents in our small country it is only a matter of time before everyone knows. Always consider that if it were my child – how does my child go to church? How does my child go to the mall knowing people are looking and pointing and saying – what did you do to cause this abuse to happen? Be mindful of one guiding factor- Suppose it was my child?”