Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dr. Phil Also Intervened - But he backs Diane Sawyer

From Po:

I got the transcript of the Larry King show from last week, when Dr. Phil defended Diane Sawyer's character and her caring. But Phil McGraw also noted that he didn't know the facts around Diane Sawyer's Primetime Live episode. He also gave her permission to invoke The Star's Excuse, which is that stars are talking heads with handlers and producers and it isn't always up to The Star what happens to videotapes.

But if you didn't see it, on Monday night Dr. Phil got into a very similar situation as Diane Sawyer, and he handled it quite differently. He did the right thing and intervened, despite momentum from his producers to rush to the airwaves with their videotape.

Phil's show was called A Mother's Rage. She had 5 kids and she knew she needed help, so she asked Dr. Phil to install a video camera. It's amazing what she did knowing that there was a camera in her kitchen. She picked on her 10-year-old son, forcing him into his room where you hear screaming and crying, and then when he came out crying about his knee, she actually kicked him from the back. Then she ranted and raved at the daughter, who was about 9. The cameras showed the reaction of the 3-year old twins to all the screaming. A baby about 7 months old was there also.

Dr. Phil did not bring the older kids in front of the audience. He spared them some by keeping them in a side room, where he could interview them. They were sweet kids - and worried that their mother was going to get in trouble. They knew that what she does to them is illegal. They also expressed fear of their stepfather's stick, which Dr. Phil said he'd destroy. (The stepfather said he had only used it once. Dr. Phil told him he needs help with his parenting skills; however, it was the mother who was way out of control.)

Dr. Phil made the father promise that he would not leave the mother alone w/them during the time he arranged for intervention. He told the mother on stage, "Lady, you understand that before you leave here today I will report this to Child Protective Services."

On the Larry King show - which ran prior to this show, but Dr. Phil talked about it anyway - he said his producers were going to broadcast A Mother's Rage right away, but Dr. Phil saw the tape and made the call, telling his producers that this mother was severely abusing a child physically, mentally, and emotionally. He asked the family to be brought in.

This wasn't exactly clear watching the show Monday night, because it the children were allowed to go home with the mom and stepfather after the show. So Dr. Phil posted a note on his website:

Please be assured that immediately following the taping of "A Mother's Rage," the Dr. Phil show did make a report to local child protection authorities. As a mental health professional, Dr. Phil is required by law to make such a report if he has concerns about the safety, welfare or well being of a child. However, Dr. Phil does not himself have the authority to remove children from their parents' home.

I felt like Dr. Phil handled this quite well.

I'm reminded suddenly of when I spent the night working in East Los Angeles with a police officer. This was during my research for What Should I Do With My Life? When the police gets a domestic abuse call, they have to investigate it - no matter what. The call from dispatch was Level 3 - no immediate danger. A teacher had reported that a child had some bruises. We drove into the housing project in a barrio. In the end, the whole story seemed to check out about as well as it could - the boy claimed he had taken a fall on a bicycle, which had a bent wheel. The boy's palm was abraded, consistent with landing on concrete. But it was incredibly tense to walk into this house and get the distrustful stares from everyone in the family. We tried to be as kind as possible, but we also had to follow police procedures for clearing a house and making sure nobody was in a closet with a gun. It felt like our investigation could easily make any situation far worse. But it had to be done.

I guess that's the lesson - every potential abuse should be reported.

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I have seen this system manipulated to a parent's advantage, too. For two years, I kept in touch with an absolutely lovely woman who was waiting for the court to allow her to see her adopted daughter again. Ten years prior, she had married a man who had custody of a baby daughter. She soon adopted his daughter as her own. Years later, their marriage broke apart, and custody battles ensued. The father eventually reported her to CPS, alleging sexual abuse - a flat out lie. But CPS is even more protective in sexual abuse allegations than physical abuse, and so they would not let the mother see her daughter until the charges were cleared. It took six months. Then he did it again - same allegation - and the courts, being overly protective, kept her from seeing her daughter for the next two years.

Can you imagine not seeing your 12 year old daughter for two years because of one phone call her dad made when he was angry?

This is a very touchy topic, and I just hope that readers recognize the difficulty of handling these circumstances without the benefit of hindsight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed this is a very touchy topic. Sometimes people's idea of abuse is different from other people's idea of abuse.

I had a question. What about emotional abuse or neglect? If a child is always told she or he is fat when it is not true, then is it emotional abuse?

Regarding physical abuse,
I remember reading a news blurb in high school that in Sweden if a parent spanks their child, the government will fine them the equivalent of 200 dollars or prison or something like that.

About that father at the end of the post, what he did was horrible. Did they ever check to see if he was abusing his child? If not physically, was he emotionally abusing the child?

Agreed that it is always a good idea to check out every report.

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very disappointed Dr.Phil would insinuate that hitting your husband until his teeth fallout is not an excuse to retaliate and hit back; Who doesn't know that?! What you failed to mention (because you went right to a commercial break after you said this) is that it's never right for either party to use physical violence; Dr. Phil, for the hundreds of viewers who changed the channel during the commercial break you might want to clarify yourself better next time......

1:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home