The Press Council called on the journalists to treat the subjects concerning children in difficult situations with special accuracy and to cover cases of suicide or suicide attempts only if there is major public interest and the rights of children and their families are respected. The authorities responsible for the management of cases, including the police, are urged to broadcast with maximum prudence information and data about such cases so as not to allow re-victimizing the children who experienced abuses. The call was made by the Press Council following the examination of an appeal made by the children’s ombudswoman Maia Bănărescu over the reporting by media outlets of a suicide attempt in a village in the Republic of Moldova, IPN reports.
In the Press Council’s meeting, Maia Bănărescu condemned the superficial method of covering this case, when local gossips became national news item and some of the media outlets suggested that the girl tried to kill herself because she was sexually abused by her father. The news items published by some of the portals weren’t based on evidence and official confirmation from the police and other responsible bodies, and neglected children’s rights. Consequently, the information allowed the girl and the family to be recognized in the village. The girl’s psycho-emotional state was seriously affected and the family does not know how to act further. Maia Bănărescu considers that not only the image, but also the climate in the family and its status in society were damaged. “Producing a sensation by using a child is neither ethical, nor human or legal,” said the ombudswoman for the protection of children’s rights.
The Press Council warned the journalists that for the cases of suicide or suicide attempt to be covered, there should be solid editorial justification. The editorial offices are obliged, from deontological and legal viewpoints, to obey the rights and superior interest of the child. The rumors cannot be published in the media without thorough verification, said the members of the national journalistic self-regulatory body. The Press Council decided to call on the authorities responsible for the management of such cases, including the police, to broadcast with maximum prudence information and data about cases of suicide so as not to allow re-victimizing the children and not to cause new sufferings to those involved.
In the same meeting, the Press Council examined the complaint filed by the National Center for Child Abuse Prevention over a program broadcast by TVC 21 channel. The Center said the journalist’s deontological norms were violated by the moderator when treating and presenting information. There were also violated the rules of protecting the identity of children involved in events with a negative connotation. In a response to the Press Council’s notification, the moderator of the TV program Margareta Răducanu expressed her conviction that she didn’t commit violations, arguing she had the permission to present personal data on the subject discussed in the program.
After examining this case, the Press Council determined that the TV channel and the journalist violated deontological provisions concerning the accuracy of information and protection of children involved in events with a negative connotation.