Media Impacts on Children’s Rights: How Media Contributes to Child Protection

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MEDIA IMPACTS ON CHILDREN’S RIGHTS:
HOW MEDIA CONTRIBUTES TO CHILD PROTECTION

Child abuse gives most people a vision of the faults and blunders of the society.  Child mistreatment is one of the most common crimes committed in the present. As for the Philippines, one can find vital statistics to certain crimes at the Bantay Bata 163 website (http://www.abs-cbn.com/bantaybata163). According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 6,494 cases of child abuse were reported for the year of 2006 alone. Indeed, the government and certain non-government organizations must deal with these incidents of child abuse particularly the mass media.

This paper examines the role of the media in relation to child abuse and child protection and argues that the media have been essential to the task of placing the problem of child abuse in the minds of the public and on the political agenda.

THE MASS MEDIA

According to YourDictionary.com, Mass Media is those means of communication that reach and influence large numbers of people, especially newspapers, popular magazines, radio, and television. Mass Media are those media that are created to be consumed by immense number of population worldwide and also a direct contemporary instrument of mass communication. Nonetheless, Mass Media is considered as the fourth estate of the society as well. It is the fourth branch of the government. It is the voice and weapon of the people and the society as whole.

Mass media has various purposes, first is for entertainment, traditionally through performances of acting, music, and sports, along with light reading but since the late 20th century it can also be through video and computer games. Next is for public service announcement which is intended to modify public attitudes by raising awareness about specific issues like health and safety. And lastly is for advocacy. This can be for both business and social concerns. This can include advertising, marketing, propaganda, public relations and political communication.

MEDIA AND HUMAN RIGHTS

As stated by the Secretary- General of the United Nations in 1998, Human Rights are ‘what reason requires and what conscience commands’ (Mizuta, 2000). It is commonly recognized that human rights are firm foundations of human existence and co-existence. It is for these human rights that the United Nations is engaged in securing the basic conditions of life, in ensuring peace, development, a safe environment, food, shelter, education, participation, equal opportunities and protection against intolerance in any form.

The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expicitly states that:

‘every individual and every organ of the society, keeping this Declaration constatly inmind, shall strive by teaching education to promote respect for these rights and freedom’ (Hamelink, 2000).

With this, we can say that all (including different institutions) are responsible in promoting human rights.

Mass media present the opportunity to communicate to large numbers of people and to target particular groups of people. As observed by Gamble and Gamble (1999), mass communication is significantly different from other forms of communication. They note that mass communication has the capacity to reach 'simultaneously' many thousands of people who are not related to the sender. It depends on 'technical devices' or 'machines' to quickly distribute messages to diverse audiences often unknown to each other. Thus, media in relation to human rights shows a exceptional characteristic in promoting it.

CHILD ABUSE

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.

The physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and...
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