By Dominic Ponsford
Journalists writing about court cases involving child abuse have
been urged to consider the effects their reports have on the victims.
According to the NSPCC, even though newspapers are legally barred
from identifying child victims, the tone of reports can still end up
harming children involved.
This week the charity launched its
Caring for Children In Court Appeal aimed at paying for the £3.2
million running costs of its young witness support centres.
appeal has been backed up by research based on 50 interviews with young
witnesses which found that more than half were very upset, distressed
or angry when in court.
Although the main thrust of the campaign
is aimed at lawyers and court staff, NSPCC children’s services manager
Maggie Price said journalists also have a role to play.
“From my experience dealing with child witnesses, youngsters often feel
that the way the case is reported does identify them and they feel very
vulnerable because of the amount of detail that’s being reported.”
said that children may already have told friends some details of the
case and then feel they can be identified by facts, like the name of
their school, which appear in reports.
She said: “Sometimes when there are not-guilty verdicts the case can be reported in a way that blames the victim.
Not guilty doesn’t necessarily mean nothing happened, it means it wasn’t proven beyond reasonable doubt.
young people and families accept that cases will get reported, but it’s
the style of those reports and the way it is represented that’s
difficult for them.
“What we are saying is think about what the
impact of the reports might be on the young person and think about the
way you report it.”
Former DJ and TV presenter Noel Edmonds is fronting the NSPCC campaign.
said: “We would appeal to journalists reporting on the courts to bear
in mind the impact of what they write on these vulnerable children.”