Broadcasters and members of the media are being asked to show sensitivity as the first anniversary of the Manchester bombing approaches. The call comes from the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, an organisation that supports victims and survivors of terrorism, and is a response to material that is being screened that features explicit descriptions of injuries and fatalities and scenes of an upsetting nature with people in distress.
The Peace Foundation operates the Survivors Assistance Network, a free and confidential service for anyone in the United Kingdom who has been affected by terrorism at home or abroad. The service is supporting 750 individuals affected by the Manchester bombing, including 300 families. The service is clinically informed and provides health and well being, social and welfare support.
The Peace Foundation is concerned that broadcasters have persuaded victims and their families to feature in programmes and are getting them to share their experiences, using often graphic descriptions of trauma and without clinical support present. Broadcasters are disproportionately filming and featuring people who are displaying trauma and anxiety rather than those who may be more resilient and resistant.
In one programme, a young person describes graphic images of the bombing scene, in another, an NHS employee suggests that everyone who has experienced the bombing will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is not based on clinical evidence either from post-conflict military studies or previous terrorism incidents where many people are able to cope and recover with the support provided.
The Peace Foundation has asked the broadcasters to consult with their experts and to include appropriate warnings to support transmission and promote the contact details of those organisations who can offer advice and support.
The Peace Foundation is also urging all those affected to consider carefully before watching such programmes and to ensure they exercise self-care.
Nick Taylor, Chief Executive said: “The global media attention relating to the Manchester bombing is unprecedented and broadcasters are following many lines of enquiry and spending time with families gaining their trust so they can film very detailed and sensitive content.
“Many broadcasters are doing this to create a high-quality output, but it is also a very difficult subject for many to watch, listen or talk about.
“There is no obligation for anyone to watch or listen to the programmes and I would urge anyone who is affected to exercise their choice, put themselves first, and contact the Survivors Assistance Network to take up our support.
In his report into the response following the Manchester Bombing, Lord Kerslake, and his Panel, expressed shock and dismay at the accounts of the families of their experience with some of the media. Lord Kerslake said: “To have experienced such intrusive and overbearing behaviour at a time of enormous vulnerability seemed to us to be completely unacceptable. We were concerned to identify what might be done to prevent this happening again in any future terrorist event.”
There is no suggestion that any broadcaster is failing to comply with the relevant code, however the sensitive and often intrusive nature of their filming means that the people they feature should be made aware of all support available to them, adequate warnings should be given to others affected to help them exercise a choice that puts their care first and advice on support available to be given at all points of transmission.
If you have been affected by terrorism, please contact
Survivors Assistance Network | The Peace Centre | Peace Drive | Warrington | Cheshire | WA5 1HQ
Email – SAN@Foundation4peace.org
Phone – 01925 581240
Twitter – @survivors4p
(c) 2018 Survivors Assistance Network is a service of Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, a registered charity in England and Wales. The service is partly funded by the Ministry of Justice, the Victims and Survivors Service (Northern Ireland) as part of the European Union’s PEACE IV and by the generosity of our donors and supporters.