Should the media self-censor some court cases?BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7022.62a (Published 06 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:62
- Richard Morriss
Joshua Rozenberg explores the conflict of interest between freedom of information and the protection of the public's mental health in his account of the censorship of the graphic details of the West trial.
It is not difficult to imagine how explicit reporting of some court case evidence, such as that described in the West case, might precipitate considerable distress in victims of past sexual abuse or rape. Unfortunately, childhood sexual abuse and rape are common—for example, 10% of a random sample of women in New Zealand had suffered abuse involving genital contact. The adult sequelae of childhood sexual abuse range from minimal effects to intractable and distressing psychiatric problems which are exacerbated by exposure to situations which remind the sufferer of past physical and sexual violence. Recurrent distress is more likely when the victim experienced substantial violence and humiliation during the original …