An good ruling from The Press Council:
On July 23 Stuff NZ published an article headed ‘Bath bombs cause painful reaction among females’ about a painful skin reaction suffered by two girls, in separate incidents, after they had bathed in water infused with bath bombs sold by nationwide retailers.
The story identified and quoted the mothers, who described their daughters’ vulvas as “red and irritated” and ‘red raw, raised and sore’ after their baths. Both children, one a toddler and another a preschooler, were named in the story.
Ms Woods complained that it was inappropriate for Stuff to have mentioned the names of the children particularly when the state of their vulvas was being described.
“This is on the internet, which as everyone knows, means it can be around forever,” she said.
She quoted Press Council Principle 3, Children and Young People, which states: “In cases involving children and young people editors must demonstrate an exceptional degree of public interest to override the interests of the child or young person.”
Naming the girls in this case was not necessary for public interest, she said.
Can’t agree more. No kid wants to google their name in 15 years time and find out that there was a story about their inflamed vulvas.
The Council found:
The editor’s response that the mother of one of the girls approached Stuff with the information, and that both parents agreed to have the children’s names published, and were happy with the story after it was published, offered the Press Council a compelling argument against upholding the complaint under Principle 2, Privacy, in that the parents are the legal guardians.
The Press Council finds that the circumstances of this case however did not warrant naming the children. Principle 3, Children and Young People, states:“In cases involving children and young people, editors must demonstrate an exceptional degree of public interest to override the interests of the child or young person.” We see no public interest in naming the children, let alone the exceptional degree required by the Principle.
The thrust of the story is a warning that bath bombs can cause an allergic skin reaction in children. In our opinion, naming the sufferers of that reaction does not add to the validity of the story in any way other than to provide a human element. Given the explicit and highly personal nature of the details published, it is likely the children would be embarrassed if they found their names linked to such details in the future.
A good reminder that just because the parents consent is not sufficient reason in itself to publish the names.