Journalists must take special care when reporting on the issue of child sexual exploitation. Privacy rights of individual children must be protected and journalists must guard against sensationalized content, which distorts the realities of exploitation and serves only to titillate while re-victimizing those affected. Beyond Borders endorses the Principles for Ethical Reporting on Children set out by UNICEF and encourages journalists to practice them.
Care with language is also important. Terms such as “child prostitute/hooker,” for example, are unacceptable. Not only are these terms demeaning to child victims but they also connote consensual participation in sexual acts with adults. We encourage journalists to use terms such as “commercial child sexual exploitation” of “exploitation through prostitution” in place of “child prostitute”.
Similarly, terms such as “kiddie porn” or “child porn” serve to minimize the gravity of this form of child sexual abuse. This is particularly so as adult pornography becomes increasingly acceptable in the mainstream. The term “child abuse images” is becoming more commonplace as a way to describe “child pornography.”