Press often portray children as victims, says survey

A new global study of newspaper coverage of children finds that nearly one-third of the articles about them portray them as victims.

That was by far the largest category of stories about children in the study, which was produced in a unique cooperative project between newspapers and schools worldwide. The researchers were children themselves.

The study was conducted this spring, when 70 classes from 24 countries studied newspapers daily for one week and categorised all the news articles they found about children. The Belfast Telegraph was one of the participating newspapers.

Children were portrayed as victims in nearly one in three of the stories examined. The second largest category was “children in schools”, which included nearly one in five stories.

Other categories include “children are brilliant”, with 17 per cent of the stories, followed by “children in politics” (10 per cent), “children as wrongdoers” (8 per cent), and “children helping others” (4 per cent).

“The responses to the study remind all those who work for newspapers that children are as diverse as their adult counterparts and that much remains to be done to satisfy their newspaper needs,” said the report’s author, Magne Raundalen.

“The finding that almost one-third of stories related to children as victims supports previous findings and provides a reminder that coverage of children may easily become focused on limited issues,” Raundalen said.

The study was conducted for the World Association of Newspapers in its Newspapers in Education Development Project.

A summary of the report can be found at www.wan-press.org.

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