Media and children's rights

There are a number of ways in which the rights of children may be violated by inappropriate exposure and media stereotyping. Article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) promotes the right to respect for the family and private life; Article 14 ECHR promotes the prohibition of discrimination.

Children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) include:

  • Article 2: prohibiting discrimination
  • Article 12: the child’s right to express views freely in all matters affecting them
  • Article 13: the child’s right to freedom of expression, which is restricted by law when necessary for the protection "of national security, or of public order … or of public health or morals"
  • Article 16: protection against interference or attack on "privacy, family, home or correspondence … honour or reputation"
  • Article 17: recognition of the importance of the media, and encouragement of the dissemination of material "of social and cultural benefit to the child" and "the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child"

These articles clearly establish rights for children that could be violated by irresponsible media practices. In particular, CRC Article 17 lays down that the media are responsible for promoting the welfare of the child.

Violation of children’s rights includes insensitive reporting and misrepresentation, or denial of space for their opinions on various issues. As such, paragraph (e) of Article 17 says that States must: "Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18."

General Day of Discussion on children and the media:

Source: Children’s rights and journalism practice – a rights-based perspective
 commissioned by UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) © UNICEF - Dublin Institute of Technology 2007

Rights, Childhood and the Public Agenda: A comparative analysis of Latin American press coverage (Redandi, 2006)

Further information:


As the above examples demonstrate, the use of language can be crucial in perpetrating myths, stigmatising children, and inciting prejudice. In the same way that people with disabilities have called for the use of terms such as 'handicapped', or 'retarded' see CRIN's guide to disability language for more examples to be rendered redundant, so reporters should also be wary of using derogatory language to describe children. As the examples above suggest, 'hoodies' in the UK, 'deviants' in Hungary, or 'delinquents' in the US and elsewhere are used with apparently acceptable frequency.