The Irish Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Frightening newspaper front pages can harm children, says psychologist
FRONT PAGES of newspapers that scare children break the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a leading Norwegian child psychologist has said.
Prof Magne Raundalen also said the brains of children subjected to long-term, low-grade fear are damaged by high levels of the cortisone hormone which may reduce their IQ by 10 per cent.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Press Council of Ireland on Children and the Media, Prof Raundalen, of the Centre for Crisis Psychology in Bergen, Norway, said newspapers were made for adults by adults, but the front page was read by children.
They were frightened by startling headlines, particularly those involving child death, he said. Children who had suffered traumas in their lives could be particularly susceptible to long-term reactions, “after seeing only one frightening front page”.
“These children can perceive frightening front pages in a way that is harmful to them,” he said.
Prof Raundalen said an American study had shown children from “normal families” who lived with a small, but constant fear of corporal punishment had lost 10 per cent of their IQ. The cortisone hormone, produced when a person was in a state of fear, “poisoned part of the brain” central to memory, he said.
Front-page headlines which scared children could be in breach of article 17 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognises the effects of the media on children.
Prof Raundalen suggested a series of guidelines for the press when covering stories about child death on the front page. These included the exclusion of pictures of the child who has been killed, the avoidance of headlines such as “child killed by mum or dad”, and the avoidance of detailed information on the method of death.
Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan suggested there should be some collaboration between her office and the media to offer guidance on reporting about children.
Also speaking at the seminar, Dr Paul Connors, national director of communications with the HSE, said in all reportage on children’s issues, the benchmark before publishing should be “what is in the best interests of the child”. FULL STORY
In case you don't know the CRC is a very bad thing, see the AFRA UNCRC page. And if you want to do something about stopping the dirty communist crap, see the AFRA Activism page As for the "best interest of the child" see Best interest of the child- A new "Civil Right"