‘Behavioural issues give rise to social instability’

* Expert says lack of info on behavioural issues in youth may lead to abuse, rights violation and untimely deaths

ISLAMABAD: One of the leading factors that can result in social instability in Pakistan is the lack of proper information on behavioural issues in youth. This discourse was thoroughly made by experts in a sensitisation workshop at a hotel on Saturday.The workshop, titled ‘Media Sensitisation Workshop on Health and Behavioural Issues of Youth’, was arranged by EHAD. Journalists from print and electronic media participated in the workshop.This was first of the nine workshops. The remaining workshops will be held in Lahore, Lodhran, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Jamshoro, Karachi, Quetta and Pishin. The purpose of these workshops is to improve the quality and quantity of media coverage of youth-centric issues by equipping the media with the proper knowledge and tools, and help them report issues professionally.Wajih Akhtar, master trainer and a prominent communication expert, said, “Deficiency of right information on behavioural issues of youth like challenges of growing-up, bad influence of peer pressure, child sexual abuse, addiction and HIV/AIDS and hepatitis may lead to exploitation, abuse, rights violations, ill-informed decisions and untimely deaths.”“One of the major reasons for lack of awareness and negative perceptions about these issues is low media coverage given to these issues,” he added. “Journalists should make these issues a reporting priority so that parents and caretakers gear-up to guide their children through these vital times.”After the introductory session, the participants were given a detailed review by Akhtar regarding issues like Right of Privacy, Insensitive Reporting, International Best Practices, Challenges Faced by Pakistani Media while Reporting on Child Sexual Abuse, Puberty Issues and Infectious Diseases like Hepatitis & HIV/AIDS, How to make these Issues Media’s Priority, Presentation of Selected Insensitive Media Reports and Allocation of Topics from Five Areas for Group Activity.In the post-lunch session, the participants were then divided into five groups and each group was tasked to write a report and to give a presentation on one of the issues from EHAD thematic areas.During the concluding session, the ‘2014 Investigative Journalist Award’, being organized by EHAD was unveiled. These awards are being offered to the journalists of nine districts and they will cover six thematic areas of the project. Awards will be given in three categories: print, TV and radio. The best investigative report from the three categories will receive Rs 20,000 each. The awards will help with increased reporting on social and behavioural issues of youth and the profile of the reporting at district level.The next workshop of this series will be held in Peshawar on September 6.

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