‘Children should be seen and not heard’ is an outdated figure of speech and attitude, and yet media today still largely ignores the voices of children. This, even as children are among the most vulnerable groups in South Africa. When children do make the news, the image is negative and disempowering, research shows.

Children make up more than a third, or 37%, of the national population, yet research shows that they are only mentioned in 13% of written news stories. What’s more, most of these stories do not include the voices or perspectives of children, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) found.

In a report titled Children, Media and Law, MMA analysed print and online media, scraping articles for keywords. The organisation used an online tool called Dexter, which scanned the news for words like learner, pupil, child, mother, minor, baby, toddler, infant and teenager. Dexter analysed a total of 12, 693 stories from May to September 2020, and found that of those, 1, 710 were about children.

Media Monitoring Children News

(Media Monitoring Africa)