1.1 Background to the study
The Child Rights Act 2003 (CRA) incorporates all the rights and responsibilities of children; consolidates all laws relating to children into a single law; and specifies the duties and obligations of government, parents and other authorities, organizations and bodies including mass media. The Act defines a child as a person below the age of 18 years.
The media reflected this upsurge of interest in its coverage of human rights stories mostly, children’s right. Today the mass media make reference to children rights in their coverage more often and more systematically.
This has significant implications on perceptions of children rights reporting, on what stories editors and journalists prioritise and how those stories are written.
Goldiom (2000). Maintains that though journalists have expanded their way of covering human rights into new areas, many human rights issues are underreported by the media. Much reporting focuses on violations of rights during conflicts.
The CRA categorically states that the best interest of the child shall remain paramount in all considerations. A child retains the right to survival and development and to a name and registration at birth, and shall be given such protection and care as is necessary for his or her wellbeing.
The Act provides for freedom from discrimination on the grounds of belonging to a particular community or ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion, the circumstances of birth, disability, deprivation or political opinion; and it states that the dignity of the child shall be respected at all times.
No Nigerian child shall be subjected to physical, mental or emotional injury, abuse or neglect, maltreatment, torture, inhuman or degrading punishment, attacks on their honor or reputation.
Every Nigerian child is entitled to rest, leisure and enjoyment of the best attainable state of physical, mental and spiritual health.
Philip Klapt (2002). The media do not explain and contextualize children rights information as well as they might. In general, data on children rights violations and on human rights standards are not lacking.
However, the impact of this information on the public is not as great as might be expected. The media miss children rights stories because they do not pay attention to the specific legal and policy implications they have.
Every government in Nigeria shall strive to reduce the infant mortality rate, provide medical and health care, adequate nutrition and safe drinking water, hygienic and sanitized environments, combat diseases and malnutrition, and support and mobilize through local and community resources the development of primary health care for children.
There are provisions for children in need of special protection measures. These children shall be protected in a manner that enables them to achieve their fullest possible social integration and moral development.
Expectant and nursing mothers shall be catered for, and every parent or guardian with legal custody of a child under the age of two years shall ensure his or her immunization against diseases, or face judicial penalties. Betrothal and marriage of children are prohibited.
Causing tattoos or marks as well as female genital mutilation are punishable offences under the Act; so also is exposure of children to pornographic materials, trafficking of children, their use of narcotic drugs, or the use of children in any criminal activities, abduction and unlawful removal or transfer from lawful custody.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Organizations have become increasingly active players in relation to the media. They have always been a key source of information. In recent years, the larger agencies have responded to the new media environment by developing their media operations.
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