Department of Women and Child Development, Govt. of Delhi in collaboration with AFD-Pratidhi organized an interface with Media representatives on “ Role of media building child Protection Environment” on 20th September, 2013 with a view to develop a clear understanding on Child Protection issues with reference to the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protect of Children) Act, 2000 and newly enacted law “The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 as well as media guidelines issues by the Hon’able High Court of Delhi.
A total 25 participants participated in the interface, out of which 16 were from media organizations. Some senior officers from Department of Women and child development, Govt. of Delhi. also addressed the audience. The following issues were discussed:
Contribution of media: All the participants appreciated media’s role in generating awareness among people on child rights issues.
Nature of reporting on juvenile in conflict of law: Many a times the flow and style of media reporting makes lots of difference especially on juvenile in conflict with law. One of the examples was the reporting in Nirbhaya case where a Juvenile was involved. Due to inappropriate media reporting, a kind of fear and insecurity was created among people vis-à-vis juvenile in conflict with law.
Misleading reporting: Various incidents were cited where the media reports give misleading information. It came to the light that the reporters use their own sources, which is misleading at times, to know the matter and write accordingly. It was suggested that a person can be designated as spokesperson in every department so that any media person can contact him to get the correct information.
Ignorance of law among Govt. Authorities: It was also said that government functionaries are not completely familiar with the legal provisions pertaining to children. Participants discussed an incident where the CWC chairperson himself was not fully aware of the provision of concealing the identity of the victim. Therefore, it was suggested that such Govt. functionaries should also be informed about legal provisions and its implications.
Interaction with the children staying in the institutions: Media persons raised the issues that the media is not allowed to meet the children in the Children Homes, though Children Homes do not have any problem. Therefore, a standard procedure needs to be developed for media so that they can have access to the children in Homes.
Reformative action should come in public domain: In the light of juvenile involvement in gang rape case, the failure of system to rehabilitate a convicted juvenile in conflict with law was discussed at length. The matter was what reformative action is taken to rehabilitate the juvenile in conflict with law within the institutions doesn’t come in public domain. Therefore, media should be permitted to enter in the institutions and see the reformative process of the children. A child may repeat the same action even after going back to community; therefore, follow up should also be done where media can also play a crucial role.
Discloser of identity Vs Community services: It has been observed that JJBs are not implementing the provision of community services for rehabilitation of children in conflict with law because of the possibility of discloser of identity of the children which can even jeopardize the rehabilitation process of children and acceptability by the community.
Mandatory reporting: It was discussed that the mandatory reporting in case of child sexual abuse is required as per the POCSO Act but many a times it makes the well-wisher of the children party to the crime and they will have to appear in the court as witness which people generally not willing to do. This needs to be looked into and appropriately amended.