Children of Jordan – اطفال الاردن

Enhancing the quality of reporting on child rights and protection issues

It is a project launched by UNICEF in partnership with the Jordan Media Institute in light of the findings of a report on journalistic practices in covering child protection issues, which was prepared by NCFA in cooperation with UNICEF in 2017 based on a survey on a sample comprising journalists and media practitioners.

The role of the media:

The report highlighted the role of the media in reducing violence against children as follows:

  • The media can help implement laws and policies that protect children.
  • The media can help children and young people face risks and challenges by promoting safe practices.
  • The media has an important role to play in changing social norms that encourage violence and discrimination against children and women.
  • The media can help protect children’s rights by enhancing awareness of prevailing issues and ensuring accountability which will help prevent and address the effects of violence against children.
  • The media can also be a catalyst for change, helping to strengthen the protective environment for children.
  • The media can help by focusing on causes and solutions when covering issues of violence, abuse, and child exploitation.
  • The media is capable of triggering a social movement benefitting from its circles so that all children in Jordan – regardless of their status, creed, or religion, are safe from violence, abuse, and exploitation.
  • On the other hand, media practitioners can be ineffective in society if they lack an understanding of the true extent and mechanisms associated with child protection issues. Their underappreciation of children’s rights may – intentionally or unintentionally – increase children’s vulnerability, by strengthening harmful social norms and practices.
  • The voices of media practitioners cannot be of much help if their media coverage of protection issues fails to protect and promote children’s rights. To be advocates of children’s rights, they need to adhere to certain ethical standards while covering children’s issues.
  • Media practitioners should take the interest of children into consideration and minimize harm and danger to them as a top priority, by carefully thinking about the results of their actions.

According to survey findings regarding respondents’ extent of knowledge on child-related protection issues,  results were as follows:

  • 36% (42% of females and 30% of males) indicated that they do not have sufficient knowledge about child labour and the worst types of child labour. 27% said they have little knowledge of child trafficking. 18% (20% females, 16% males) of the survey respondents stated that their knowledge about physical violence against children is insufficient. Also, 30% do not have knowledge of ILO Conventions 138 and 182. In addition, 17% (16% female, 18% male) have insufficient information about corporal punishment.
  • With respect to awareness of international laws and conventions regarding children’s rights, the survey reflected that 49% (50% females and 48% males)% do not have sufficient awareness of the proposed Child Rights Law, and that 43% have little knowledge of the family violence draft law. The same applies to 36% of the participants who indicated that they have insufficient knowledge of juvenile law. Also, 32% (39 %females and 25% males) believe that they have little knowledge of the penal code.

Makani Project for Journalists

The Jordan Media Institute, in cooperation with UNICEF, launched the Makani Project for Journalists in 2018 with a view to:

  • Involve editors from the onset of any intervention by media practitioners and the media sector. This will help them gain support for such initiatives.
  • Provide assistance to a small group of journalists to specialize in child rights media coverage. This will be possible and will help make child rights reporting a specialized field.
  • Enhance journalists ’understanding of the legal frameworks, international treaties and conventions and local laws governing children’s rights and protection.
  • Invest in the establishment and maintenance of a network of professional journalists from the entire media sector who are interested in engaging in discussions of issues related to violence against children in Jordan within the concerned circles. The strength of the proposed network lies in its membership, which is determined by the interconnectedness and activity of the community.
  • Devote a joint award for coverage of issues related to child rights.
  • Increase journalists’ access to published material. This may be possible through the establishment of a network for children’s rights protection that converts published material into accessible documents, such as bulletins, articles and briefs. This will help develop and advocate for a child rights agenda on a large scale which focuses on current social challenges, political reforms and resource usage.
  • Train young journalists on child protection issues and what the media can do to face this challenge.
  • Collaborate with academic and training institutions that offer courses in journalism and media to promote specialized reporting, including child rights reporting. This will also help develop the skills of young journalists with regard to ethical practices and topics from the start.
  • Develop a code of journalistic ethics or practices.
  • Document success stories of Jordanian journalists who covered social issues and received some sort of recognition for promoting issues related to children’s rights.

In 2018, the institute, in cooperation with UNICEF, invested in the institutional capacities of media practitioners by developing a curriculum on child rights-based journalism for the master’s program. The curriculum serves as a comprehensive reference for any journalist interested in child rights reporting as it encompasses everything journalists need in order to create a system based on the rights and best interests of children. The curriculum was incorporated into the Jordan Media Institute’s main program and has been offered to three other public universities. It is designed to help shape future journalists with adequate knowledge of ethical reporting before they begin their career path (which is a huge gap now). In 2018/2019, more than 70 MA students completed the Child-Based Journalism module.

In this respect, a Child-Right Based Journalism Award was announced in the year 2018 to encourage outstanding reporting on child’s rights.  The motivation behind the award was to create a competitive atmosphere that prompts journalists to raise the level of their reporting towards ethical recognition by their peers; encourage qualitative coverage of children’s issues and their rights; have a positive impact on society by reducing violence against children; and build a child-friendly culture in Jordan. The award domain covers printed press, news websites, radio, podcast, TV, video journalism and multimedia. A qualified panel jury reviewed all applications and 10 journalists were awarded in the first round.

Of the 32 eligible journalists specialized in child rights journalism, 16 junior journalists were mentored, who consequently produced ten reports / groups on relevant topics and had entries for the award. Three of the trainees were among the winners. Following up on the participants, it was clear that their approach to children’s issues had transformed into a child rights-based approach. This shift has been clearly demonstrated in their work and even in their personal posts on social media.

Moreover, the “Makani for Journalists” Facebook page was established in April 2018 with the aim of creating a virtual platform at which journalist can share information, communicate, debate and fiercely criticize published articles related to child protection. The page has 754 followers and its posts reached 8,111 followers. An average of 5 original posts is published each week, in addition to sharing news stories related to children’s rights. An average of 15 news outlets used the press releases published on the side-lines of certain activities such as seminars, training courses or events. Not less than 225 stories were published in various media outlets.

Moreover, a seminar was conducted covering a variety of topics including the need for a comprehensive inter-sectoral plan to protect children from violence and other social initiatives for combating violence against children. The seminar, attended by 375 journalists and 12 media students, provided journalists with the opportunity to communicate directly with 48 officials from the relevant departments which gave them access to knowledge and contacts needed to prepare future reports. One journalist spoke of children convicted in terrorism-related cases. Another spoke about efforts being made to eliminate bullying in schools. The broadcasting of four online seminars (webinars) increased the number of Makani journalists’ followers on Facebook to 250.

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