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Insensitive Portrayal of Children - Press Release

Data tal-Pubblikazzjoni: Mej 03, 2016
The Commissioner for Children supports every initiative aimed at supporting the overall wellbeing of all children, in particular those who are in foster care or in residential out-of-home care. It is felt that the organisers of such events should be more sensitive to the needs and the dignity of the children they are championing. Imagery and graphic descriptions which are meant to pull at heart strings for generosity may be a good marketing tool but could also be damaging to children. Such graphic descriptions, coupled with graphic reporting of child abuse and certain statements regarding children in care, render these children as objects of pity (imsieken). All children are first and foremost rights holders deserving of our respect. 

People are familiar with depictions of children in fund raising events such as l-iStrina and Puttinu Cares and other statements which can unintentionally propagate the stigma that some children already face. 

On the 21st of April an article appeared on a local leading newspaper bearing the heading “Charity dinner for Malta's abandoned children.” The labelling of children as "poor and abandoned" and in need of charity is harmful and also condescending. Labelling and stereotyping may cause low self- esteem and social stigma. It also opens such children up to emotional bullying.  

All children should be viewed as children striving to reach their potential and not viewed as having some kind of damage or disability.

The children who require out-of-home care are entitled to receive it. It is rightfully theirs. Article 20 of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states clearly that these children “shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.” Thus, entities that are being entrusted with providing alternative care for children should receive the required support from the State.
Over the past years we have seen the previous and the present government working towards providing the necessary resources for this sector. However, much more still needs to be done to honour our duties towards all children in care, that is, to children under a Care or a Court Order and to children in care on a voluntary basis (whether in foster care or in residential out-of-home care). Their rights should underlie the conceptual framework of their alternative care. The much awaited new Child Protection Bill should reflect these rights. The Office of the Commissioner urges the government to conclude and implement this law.