Children’s rights body includes ‘news media’ in draft guidelines

The National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) has, for the first time, included a new category – “children in the news media” – in its draft guidelines to regulate the portrayal of children in entertainment and media. The children’s rights body also recommended stricter rules to protect children’s interests, particularly in the way their interviews and visuals are broadcast on television.

The NCPCR cited greater accountability on social media as well as video streaming platforms to prevent child abuse. “Since the last guidelines were issued in 2011, many changes have been made, in particular amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act, child labor laws, the Protection of Children from Harm Act 2012, Sexual and Information Technology Offenses (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Ethics) Rules, 2021,” NCPCR Chairman Priyank Kanoongo told ET. “The guidelines have been amended to incorporate the new laws.”

The draft is available for public comment. It says news media and production companies must be extremely careful when talking to child victims of rape and other sexual offences, trafficking, abuse, runaways, organized crime and children in armed conflicts and those in conflict with the law. “They should be considered anonymous for life… the media should not sensationalise stories related to children and should be aware of the harmful consequences of highlighting information about them that can harm children,” he says. .

Interviews with children should not be conducted frequently and no adult related to the child should be coerced into having the child talk, according to the draft guidelines. The body recently objected to the use of children at a protest rally organized by the Indian Popular Front and demanded a response from state authorities.

On OTT platforms, the NCPCR has made it clear that no child should be placed in a role or situation that is inappropriate, or that could upset them or put them in an embarrassing situation, other than “ensure that no child is shown smoking, drinking, or engaging in substance abuse or delinquent behavior.”

The body also specifically put the ball in the court of intermediaries, saying the new IT rules are clear about how they should become aware of content that violates child protection laws.