Babies and young children should not be involved in campaigns by political parties, the Commissioner for Children has insisted.
In comments to the Times of Malta, Commissioner Pauline Miceli said that she was aware that children are “once again being used by political parties in their campaigns”.
“We, as an office, always stress that children are children first and should be considered so and have their particular needs catered for. It is their childhood that shapes their future – their parents’ voting decisions comes after,” Ms Miceli told this newspaper.
The commissioner’s views on the matter were sought after it emerged that both Labour and Nationalist parties have started featuring babies and young children in campaign material.
While, so far in the campaign, the use of children by the PN was found to be limited to billboards, the Labour Party has included children in a video being shared on social media, with both babies and young students featuring in the footage.
Extensive talks during drafting of guidelines
On this, the commissioner said there was a dilemma between children’s right to participate and voice an option and their right to protection.
“Of course babies and very young children are far too young to know and should not be involved. Parents should be aware of the ‘future consequences’ when giving their consent to their children’s marketing presence.
“Images of children could be used by anyone who would want to harm them,” Ms Miceli said.
Parents should also consider their children’s future and ask themselves if their children would be happy to leave such a digital footprint later on, the commissioner went on. She also pointed out that this also applies to all those who post pictures of their children on the social media.
Asked whether the political parties had sought her advice ahead of the election campaign, Ms Miceli said that there were extensive talks during the drafting of guidelines regarding the participation of children in political activities.
“The main political parties gave their input. We were surprised to learn that it is usually the parents themselves who push their children to appear in such adverts,” she said.
“However, political parties should make their supporters aware of their children’s right to protection. The fact that our proposals are just guidelines is a bit disheartening.”
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