Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Hijab-Cutting Case Highlights Ethical Issues with Putting Kids in Spotlight:experts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Hijab-Cutting Case Highlights Ethical Issues with Putting Kids in Spotlight:experts

Article excerpt

Hijab-cutting case highlights ethical issues

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TORONTO - The case of an 11-year-old Toronto girl who made headlines when she falsely claimed that a scissors-wielding stranger had cut her hijab highlights the complex ethical issues that arise when a child is thrust into the national spotlight, experts say.

Police said this week their investigation found the alleged incident didn't happen, just days after the girl and her family gave a detailed account during a high-profile news conference.

The allegations captured international attention and drew swift public condemnation from the prime minister and other officials -- a situation that saw the girl's name and image splashed all over the news and social media.

Many media outlets, including The Canadian Press, have since chosen not to identify the girl. Some publications outside Canada, however, continued to use her name and photo even after the allegations were dismissed as false.

While the law doesn't automatically prevent anyone from naming an underage victim in a crime allegedly committed by an adult, there is a "strong moral and ethical" argument for protecting a child's identity, said Emma Rhodes, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in youth criminal justice.

"We protect children so that they can go on to become successful adults and with the internet as it is, by naming her, we are potentially harming her in becoming a successful adult," she said.

It is up to the adults in the girl's life, from her parents and police to media and observers, to put those safeguards in place, Rhodes said.

"It is our moral and ethical responsibility to let her be 11, to protect her because she's a child."

That the girl appeared alongside her parents, police and school officials -- a "very unusual" occurrence -- only muddied the waters, said Jeffrey Dvorkin, director of the journalism program at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus. …

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