Prof. Asher Ben-Arieh, a leading Israeli expert on preventing, identifying, and treating child abuse, has written to the Israel Association of Journalists and leading Israeli media outlets calling on them to avoid interviews with child survivors of the Hamas terrorists’ massacre in the South.
He stressed the importance of handling the stories of children who have survived traumatic events with sensitivity and responsibility.
While acknowledging the value of documenting their experiences, Ben-Arieh underscored the need for caution, especially when dealing with young children who may not yet be ready to relive their traumatic experiences. He expresses concern that subjecting them to the process of recounting such events could harm their mental and physical well-being.
Media’s role in protecting children’s welfare
A well-known social work expert who is the Haruv Chair for the Study of Child Maltreatment at Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Ben-Arieh acknowledges the vital role of the media in fortifying the resilience of Israeli society and disseminating information about the tragic events that have caused great suffering and loss among families and children.
He also stressed in his letter that news programs are often watched by youngsters who may inadvertently witness disturbing scenes, even if they do not fully understand the accompanying narratives.
He called upon parents and educational authorities to remain vigilant and informed about strategies to shield children from such distressing content on social networks.
The professor also called upon the media industry to take the utmost care and protect children’s welfare during these challenging times, emphasizing the shared responsibility of both media organizations and society at large to safeguard the well-being of children.
Ben-Arieh served as project director and editor of the Statistical Abstract – Annual State of the Child in Israel for over two decades.
He initiated and coordinated the multi-national project Measuring and Monitoring Children’s Well-Being and was among the founding members of the International Society for Child Indicators, being elected as its first chairperson in 2005.