Young readers want more good news

SOUTH Africa needs more good stories to stave off depression and suicide.

SOUTH Africa needs more good stories to stave off depression and suicide.

This was said by a group of pupils who are part of the Media Monitoring Project on a visit to Sowetan offices on Friday.

The children from Park Senior Primary School in Turffontein complained that there were many more crime stories in newspapers than those about love and happiness.

They underwent a 10-week training course to monitor whether children's rights were protected in the media.

Their study revealed that 45percent of stories were scary and sad, 23percent made them mad and angry, and only 32percent were happy stories. They said children were only in the news as victims, especially girl children.

"Reduce the number of scary stories that might lead to depression and suicide. This has to change. We want to be in the media as heroes and active citizens," they said.

"There are pictures in the media of successful businessmen holding glasses of expensive alcohol to depict success. But we children know that alcohol destroys families and happiness.

"There are also pictures of beautiful women that say these women can get any man they want. This is wrong."

The pupils said they hated pictures of dead people and that most media broke the law by identifying children in articles. This led to teasing and bullying in at school, they said.

But they praised Sowetan for its pictorial stories, information about their world and for the nation building project.

Sowetan public editor Thabo Leshilo thanked them for their research and assured them that the newspaper was always trying to find ways of reaching young minds. He invited them to write in with complaints and recommendations.