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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Stumbled upon this quandary recently. Figured I’d open it up for some smart discussion. (NOTE: It involves possible sexual assault of a minor, so be forewarned…and be sensitive).

Here’s the situation:

A woman called me and said her significant other (who is accused of assaulting her teenage daughter…charges I wrote about) is innocent.  She said her daughter (who has mental disabilities, the mother claims) made the story up. The woman wanted to get this story across to exonerate someone she believes is innocent. To do so, I would of course need to ID her as the mother of the alleged victim in the story, so as to give weight to the claims. This also inevitably identifies the alleged victim, since it’s pretty easy to connect mother to teenage daughter. And it is the standard practice at most news organizations to not identify victims/alleged victims of sexual abuse, rape and the like. There is sound reasoning behind this: being identified publicly as a sexual assault victim can be humiliating and stigmatizing.

But is it different if a victim wants to identify him/herself? I would say so. If someone wants to talk about their experience in a public forum, who’s to keep a reporter from printing it? However, is it the same when a mother wants to essentially identify her teenage daughter, either as someone with a disability, a sexual assault victim, or both? Or does the rule of thumb (“don’t identify sexual assault victims/alleged victims”) hold true?

Uneasy subject for many, but I would love to hear your (respectful) thoughts.

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