The welcoming of the first wave of children refugees has been greeted by lovely, heartwarming reporting from the majority of the press. Not. On watching the ten o’clock news I myself was bemused to be greeted with the so called faces of some of these children. Mr C pretty much summed it up when he said “bloody hell, he looks older than me” Yes, indeed, one supposed “boy” looked older than the mid-thirties and fully bearded Mr C. A lot older. That was all the press needed. Boom! We had mass-hysteria taking place, people arguing, charities defending themselves and MPs calling for dental checks.
The second wave of children refugees hid their faces from the press. I don’t blame them, we were hardly hanging out the welcome banner. The media reporting is worrying, do we really need to be concerned? We do need to ensure that the children are being settled in the UK, those children who have been having to fend for themselves in the Calais Jungle. They should be our first priority. However, the media reporting also had me questioning where the women/girls are?
Where are the females?
If we watch the reporting of the Syrian crisis we would assume that it is armies of young men that are refugees. Actually, this isn’t the case. When I started looking into it I found that UN figures show women actually outnumber men. On top of this, children younger than 11 make up for 38.5% of all refugees. Why then is the news just showing males, and rather old ones at that? The media seems intent on showing us the male refugees. Why?
It’s happening or is it?
Home Office figures have shown that two-thirds of “child” refugees are actually adult.
How has that happened? When is this stat from? This stat is being used in most of newspapers but does it really paint a true story? Are we admitting adults and leaving children to languish on the other side of the Channel? I am rubbish with guessing the ages of children but even I can tell the difference between a boy and a fully fledged man. A man with the type of stubble that would make Leonardo DiCaprio green with envy. Those are clearly not children. They should not have been classed as a child. They should not have taken the place of a child. However, we also have to listen to the argument that war ages a child. I can’t begin to imagine what refugee children have witnessed, losing your childhood to war would age you. I am not saying these adult men don’t deserve a place in the UK, because we should be welcoming all refugees! What I am saying is that they shouldn’t be taking the place of a child. Apparently, there are as many as 200 under 13s in the Calais camp. Many of them are orphans. We need to ensure that the children are looked after first. The media does seem intent on focussing on the adults that might have pretended to be a child. I would imagine that this is the minority though! However, the use of the above stat and the constant focus from the media on the adult mean means that the general public loses a sense of perspective. If we believed the media then we would think all refugees are male and adult. This type of reporting is dangerous as it doesn’t reflect the whole story.
How has this happened?
Blame has been laid at the doors of a French charity which has (apparently) been doing the vetting. I would suggest that this is typical of the UK government – passing the buck. Let’s face it, the government is very good at burying its head in the sand and being hindered by bureaucracy. Why is the government be relying on a French charity to vet? If this really is the case*. This is too important to leave to someone else; we all need to be getting involved, we all need to be helping.
We need to remember
The media reporting has already hardened the attitudes of the general public. However, we must not let the media reporting stop us from welcoming refugees. We must remember that these men are just desperate for a safe life. Who knows what we would do if we were in their situation.
The UK was hardly rolling out the welcome mat as it was, the media reporting is only going to make matters worse. If adults are taking the place of children then I agree that something needs to be done. However, I think that tooth checking is extreme and rather dubious. We don’t need these type of extreme measures. We just need to see our government getting involved and some common sense being used. We need to be proactive here. We need to be welcoming refugees, we need to do it for all of the children left behind.
*I have been told that the government is involved with the vetting procedure. Again it seems like the media is misrepresenting what is actually happening*
I would love to know your opinion on the media coverage of child refugees. Is the media coverage being politically led? Is the media failing to tell us the full story?