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Sharjah: UAE media professionals have highlighted the need for improvement in reporting on children’s issues and develop effective media policies to safeguard children’s rights during a virtual workshop organised by Sharjah’s Child Safety Department (CSD).

The workshop by CSD, an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) in Sharjah, in collaboration with the University of Sharjah’s Centre for Continuing Education and Professional Development, saw the participation of more than 50 media professionals across the UAE, as well as students of media studies and mass communication.

Professor Radhi Muhsin Al Zubaidi, director of the Centre for Continuing Education and Professional Development, emphasised the centre’s keenness to support such awareness initiatives. Workshop presenters Dr Ahmad Farouk, Dr Engy Khalil and Dr Shareefa Al Marzooqi from the University of Sharjah’s faculty of the College of Communications, discussed the principles of reporting on children’s issues in media. They also discussed how to ensure the adoption of a responsible media policy towards them, and highlighted the need for analysing case studies of media content which violated rights of children.

Professional principles

Dr Khalil elaborated on professional principles of reporting on children’s issues in media, showcasing a number of articles published in the Arab and international media. They included the principles and rights defined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations General Assembly, in addition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Professional Principles of Arab Media in Handling Child Right Issues.

She remarked that the examples showcased the ethics and principles that should be implemented in media reporting when addressing issues related to children. Analysing media content

Dr Al Marzooqi, assistant professor at the University of Sharjah’s Faculty of Communications, showcased positive and negative examples of media reporting in local and regional media, explaining the violations as well as adherence to the professional and ethical guidelines on reporting on children’s issues. She stressed the importance of including every aspect of reporting, from writing, to photography, video, and distribution on social media, in ensuring children’s rights.

Responsible media policy

Speaking about the ways of building a responsible media policy towards children, Dr Farouk, assistant professor at the University of Sharjah’s Faculty of Communications, defined media policy as a set of developed principles and guidelines to help journalists report on children’s issues in a way that enables them to serve public interest without compromising rights of children.

He noted that journalists have the responsibility to not only respect children’s rights but also actively promote them in media.

The workshop was held as part of the CSD’s ‘Responsible Media … Safe Child’ initiative launched in 2018 under the directives of Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of SCFA, with the aim of improving standards of media reporting when addressing issues involving children.