19 October 2011

Reporting on Children

| johnboy
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Somewhat intriguingly Community Services have decided now is a good time to email media outlets in this town with suggestions on “Reporting of children’s proceedings and the law”.

As a representative of a media organisation you should be aware of various laws which make it illegal to identify – either directly or indirectly – children or young people who are, or were, the subject of children’s proceedings.

Particular attention must be given to ensuring that children and young people who are subject to children’s proceedings are not identified in any report you are preparing.

Being the subject of children’s proceedings covers both criminal and care and protection proceedings. It also includes identifying that a child or young person is, or was, in the care of the Community Services Directorate.

In almost all circumstances, the names of any such child or young person must not be published, nor their address, their suburb, the name of a family member or carer. This includes ensuring that the identity of the child or young person cannot be worked out by the information published.

We asked if it was being sent apropos of anything in particular and received this response:

Just a couple of incidents in the last few days of families of children in the media who are reported to have been the subject of children’s proceedings and who have come close to identifying the children.

One would hope that Community Services is not trying to hide behind these laws to avoid scrutiny of its own failings in the care of children. (Not that I can figure out if this is the case here).

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