Saturday, February 14, 2004

Most papers have a policy to not name victims of sexual abuse.

But when a sexual abuse case is pending, before the defendant has been found guilty or not guilty, special care should be taken in phrasing that policy. To say we don't "name the victims of sexual abuse" is to presume that accuser has been abused before the court has ruled so.

But what's the best way to change the phrasing?

Here's an example from the Denver Post:
The Denver Post's policy is to withhold the names of alleged rape victims unless they seek to be publicly identified.
And one from the Detroit Free Press:
She said her daughter, who is not being identified because of the Free Press' policy not to name the alleged victims of sex assaults, suffered ...
In some instances, the abuse or assault is clear and only the identity of the perpetrator is in question. Calling these people victims is fine.

We just need to make sure that we don't imply someone is guilty when the jury's still out.


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