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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 336-340

Quality of online news media reports of child sexual abuse in India

Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Rajesh Sagar
Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_238_21

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Background: Media plays an important role in creating awareness and shaping public opinion about child sexual abuse (CSA). Research suggests that sensible media reportage on CSA is important for positive impacts of media. However, most of the studies assessing the quality of CSA news reports are from western countries. Aim: To systematically assess the pattern of online news media reportage of CSA in India. Methodology: A total of 149 news reports on the topic of CSA in India, published online over a one-year period were analyzed. Framing of CSA and other news media characteristics were evaluated. Results: Framing of CSA was episodic in majority of news reports, with criminal-justice system-related details about individual cases mentioned in about 90% reports. Further, more than two-third news reports did not mention possible causes or reasons of CSA, and possible steps that people could take to prevent CSA. About one-fifth of news reports provided statistics, research findings, or correct information to dispel myths or wrong public stereotypes about CSA. Inclusion of child helpline or contact information of any child welfare/support services was missing in most of the news reports. Conclusion: This is the first study to systematically assess the quality of news media reports on CSA in India. It provides valuable baseline information about existing media practices and helps in identifying areas for further improvement of media reporting on CSA. There is a need to conduct regular workshops with media professionals to provide them adequate training and support for improving media reporting of CSA.

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