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     Volume 5 Issue 86 | March 17, 2006 |

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Spare the children, please


This has been said before, in this column, and at other occasions by the society's conscientious people newspapers should not carry gruesome pictures of mutilated bodies and body parts. Local television channels are not lagging far behind in the graphic presentation of murder, road accidents and bomb blasts. Perhaps we tend to forget that such avenues of information and entertainment are not 'for adults only'.

It is not difficult to imagine what odd questions a five-year old or some one even younger, and more inquisitive, can raise with his dad and mom, and even among themselves, when they see another of their age bleeding, disfigured and dead. Perhaps the only option left to the parents would be to fold the newspaper or switch to another channel and ask them to go out and play. Newspapers and television channels are not 'for adults only'.

Outside or in an adjacent room, the children may want to play being 'dead' bloody and mutilated just like they saw in the newspaper. Their future is not hard to imagine.

Previously such pictorials were limited to grown-ups but now the child is not being spared, especially in relation to blasts and terrorism.

It is easy to understand why the child of an innocent victim of terrorism should not be exposed to such unwarranted publicity and why the unfortunate child victim of murder, accident and mindless bomb blasts should not be shown in such explicit shocking detail in the media. The argument is therefore being pleaded from the viewpoint of children of terrorists.

A child is never to be judged by his parents' demeanour. That would be unfair, unkind and foolish, we all agree. Even if the child belongs to a criminal of the worst possible record, the child is just a child, as innocent as your own child, or younger brother and sister; howsoever you may pretend not to like them.

Don't we all know only well, "There's only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it".

The recent shake-up of the long-ignored and much denied terrorism nexus in the country has seen the face of a bewildered child, absolutely innocent, travelling on an open van on his mother's lap, after his terrorist father was arrested in Mymensingh. The child has no part to play in this drama, except to quench the human thirst of visual inquisitiveness. But this is his childhood, the only one he will get. This is a childhood that should not have been terrorised. Very special thought should have been given to him and the exposure he got in the media.

Worst was last Tuesday, when some newspapers printed front page photographs of two children killed along with their terrorist father the day before in Comilla. What do these children know about bombs and blasts and killing of innocent people by their father? They were perhaps playing with a ball or a doll, or gurgling out incoherent sounds of a child trying to fall off to sleep. They were ripped apart. And some in the media thought it right to peddle them for full public view? The media is not supposed to be viewed only as a business house; it is a nation's conscience. Ours have been pricked.

True, these violent terrorists have killed and maimed many innocent people, many perhaps in front of their children, as innocent as that of an extremist. But then that is why they are terrorists, sought after by law enforcers and loathed by the public. But, their children under no circumstances deserve this unfeeling treatment, that too by people supposedly guarding the highest form of ethics.

Nearly two thousand years ago Roman poet Juvenal said, "A child deserves the maximum respect; if you ever have something disgraceful in mind, don't ignore your son's tender years."

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