Sunday, May 07, 2006

Kyle's Family Speaks - When A Journalist Should Intervene, Part 2

Back in 2002 and 2003, ABC's Primetime Live put mini-cameras in the homes of some stepfamilies. In one family, these cameras recorded video of a father hitting his teen daughter while her stepmother egged him on. ABC sat on this videotape for over two years, finally airing a special episode two weeks ago. That episode drew 8+ million viewers, and to promote it ABC endlessly replayed the controversial segment of video. Viewers were horrified that ABC had not taken the videotape to authorities in the two+ years they had it. The correspondent for the Primetime episode was Diane Sawyer. The name of the teen daughter is Kyle Nelson. ABC vaguely asserts that since the family was in counseling and Kyle was in individual counseling, they didn't need to do anything more. They suggested that, in effect, the family already is well-aware they are in trouble and they are getting professional help. While sitting on the videotape, the statute of limitations expired and the local prosecutor cannot bring charges against the father and stepmother.

I wrote about this originally ten days ago, recounting my own experiences where I intervened to ensure the safety of my subjects, even if it meant I was losing a dramatic story by affecting its outcome.

Since then, I have been communicating with a member of Kyle's family, on her birth mother's side. And it's clear to me that ABC never let this side of the family know that Kyle was in danger, as she was. ABC never let them know what was on the tape, and this side of the family witnessed it as a complete surprise when it aired on national TV, at the same time the rest of us saw it. They had no idea how had it had been for Kyle at her father's.

Kyle's family strongly believes that ABC did not tell them of the incident - or show them the videotape - for one reason: the family would have given the videotape to their local district attorney, and because Kyle was a minor at the time, ABC would have lost use of the tape.

As for the assertion that Kyle was in the hands of a family counselor already? Well, that counselor has not come forward to explain why he/she did not intervene. But Kyle's family knows that this counselor was not keeping sessions with Kyle private; the counselor was repeating everything Kyle said to her father and stepmother. This made Kyle distrust the family counselor, and eventually Kyle stopped attending counseling because of it. Whether Kyle was in therapy at the time of the incident is unclear, but it is clear that Kyle did not feel that the family counselor was protecting her.

The family says that ABC has been generally non-responsive to their questions. Many concerned viewers have wanted to contribute to a college fund for Kyle, and the family asked ABC for help in establishing such a fund. ABC has only given the family the run-around on this, and the family has had to do it without any help or promotion from ABC.

Knowing this, I'm more inclined to see ABC's inaction as akin to covering up a possible crime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who at ABC made the decisions?

It is incomprehensible to me how anyone could put ratings ahead of the welfare of children!

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed that the ABC producers' decision of inaction is akin to a possible crime.

It is very similar to when the Germans allowed the Nazis to murder Jews, among many others during the thirties and part of the fourties in the last century.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous WIND said...

Diane Sawyer and the producers of ABC News stooped to EXPLOITING a family for ratings and appears by the Network's silence that unreported child abuse is not beneath them in the quest for ratings. But they're only adhering to Disney company policy -- doing what they can to generate profits from other people's misery.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further investigation may reveal that this information was kept close to PURPOSELY wait out the statute of limitations so that the family would not be prosecutted. Perhaps this was the deal ABC made with the Nelson family in exchange for the rights to air the footage for the sole purpose of ratings. Positively deplorable.

10:42 PM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

Watch it Dr Phil, because we are keeping an eye on you!

A lot of us have been posting at ABC Primetime forum that we are going to watch Dr. Phil's so-called 'Abuse Show" today, and I can just see him salivating in his dressing room right now , calculating the ratio of potential ratings to dollar signs.

I don't want Mr. Phil to get the wrong impression, because we are actually keeping an eye on HIM, not watching his show. We are going to be observers, albeit a bit jaded after Diane's debacle. We are going to be a large group of concerned parents and child advocates making sure that this "Abuse Show" does not, in fact, end up abusing the children even moreso!

We are on to you, Dr Phil and your miserly band of TV psychologists. So even if you portray the most sincere & genuine helping hand to this family & their children you can conjure up, we won't be fooled. Exploitation is still exploitation by any other name.

Fool me once , your fault. Fool me twice, MY fault!

7:57 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Do you really feel Dr. Phil exploits families? I think he's enormously helpful to families and while his videocameras do catch families acting poorly, I think they edit it and back off such that the result is helpful, not manipulative.

9:23 AM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

"Child Abuse Reality TV shows" violate federal CAPTA Confidentiality Requirements:

Child Welfare Policy Manual

2.1A.1 CAPTA, Assurances and Requirements, Access to Child Abuse and Neglect Information, Confidentiality

9:52 AM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

Is Dr Phil exploiting abused children for ratings?

See for yourself:

11:37 AM  
Anonymous determine48 said...

Kyle's mother said on GMA that she did not know of the abuse until she saw it aired on Primetime.

There are many, many viewers who are demanding that ABC do the right thing now that they've done all the wrong things in order to get higher ratings. I'm one of those viewers that is spreading the word to family, friends, and neighbors about ABC's disgusting decisions concerning Kyle. And here's the thing: family, friends and neighbors are getting involved and sending emails, writing letters, etc. We want nothing less than ABC to apologize to Kyle and load up her college fund. If they get rid of their own low, low standards level, that would be great, too.

12:32 PM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

Petition to ABC/Disney for Kyle Nelson Scholarhsip:

4:52 PM  
Anonymous AmyLivonia said...

Mr. Bronson:

Regarding Dr. Phil, many were disappointed that he defended Diane Sawyer and Primetime on Larry King Live last week.

Further, I wonder if you are aware that ABC is fervently deleting all intelligent posts of concern from their message board. I was just banned from the forum altogether, with no explanation, and without breaking forum rules, but for re-posting unfavorable news about this story each time said posts were deleted.

What began as an emotional heartbreak for a girl has turned into a frankly creepy and shocking experience of outright squashing of communication to bury... something. I can't believe the bizarre behavior of ABC and Diane Sawyer on this... it just keeps getting weirder.

6:12 PM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

Po, are you aware of sb's blog, "ABC is Messing with My Insanity"? It's the blog she organized for the ABC Primetime forum activists :

7:05 PM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

There is a very insightful & revealing book that was written in the 1980's called "The Child Abuse Industry" by Mary Pride:

'The Child Abuse Industry - Mary Pride
Last year over one million North American families were falsely accused of child abuse.

As a result, their homes were invaded by bureaucrats; dossiers were opened on them; their names were put in central computers, permanently on file; their children were asked leading questions and encouraged to inform on them.

These were the lucky ones. The less fortunate ended up losing their life savings, their home, their children ... everything.

Sound far-fetched? It's happening every day, right here in the U.S. and Canada. A network of federal, state, and local agencies is snatching children right out from under their parents' noses. This is the child abuse industry, and every year it threatens more and more families. Here's how it works:

It defines "abuse" so vaguely that all families are "guilty"
It operates hotlines that are open invitations to malicious slander
It denies due process and a fair trial to those accused of child abuse
It grants immunity to hotline callers and welfare bureaucrats
It allows those parents who really are abusing their children to stay in their home if they cooperate and undergo "therapy"...'

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer Granick said...

On what grounds do you believe that giving the tape to the DA would deprive ABC of the right to use it?

7:58 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Jen, the family has told me that if ABC had given the tape to the Lake Placid district attorney, ABC's use of the tape could have been revoked (I guess by a judge?) because Kyle was a minor. The family did not tell me whether they got this information from a lawyer or the district attorney, or if they deduced it on their own.

Are they wrong?

(Readers pleae note - Ms. Granick is a law professor at Stanford)

10:25 AM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

"Child Welfare Policy Manual

2.1A.1 CAPTA, Assurances and Requirements, Access to Child Abuse and Neglect Information, Confidentiality

1. Question: What are the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) confidentiality requirements?

(Updated 04/17/2006)
Answer: In general, CAPTA requires that a State preserve the confidentiality of all child abuse and neglect reports and records in order to protect the rights of the child and the child's parents or guardians (section 106(b)(2)(A)(viii) of CAPTA). However, CAPTA allows the State to release information to certain individuals and entities..."

10:50 AM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

The three ABC therapists should have been aware of federal CAPTA confidentiality requirements. If they are not, then the problem is even broader and more systemic if the institutions where they received their Psychology degrees do not teach & emphasize CAPTA.

11:08 AM  
Blogger yankhadenuf said...

Did the three ABC therapists violate federal privacy laws? After all, they didn't report the child abuse, so does that mean they are exempt from maintaining confidentiality ? It makes one wonder, have TV psychologists found a "Catch 22" loophole in CAPTA to exploit the public trust and make profits at the same time?

1:50 PM  
Blogger Garvin Yeung said...

What I think everyone missed in this debacule is that the other children in the family and their exposure to the verbal, emotional, and physical abuses piled on Kyle, has an impact on them also. Not withstanding the abuse on Kyle the other children should have been taken from their parents while both "parents" undergo treatment. If neither parents are able to control their ways of delaing with their children. The younger children will also suffer similar abuses.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

deleted post from prime time message board:

An ABC film crew can do the right thing! This wasn't even a News crew. It was a crew from their wife-swap show and it took place in April 2005.

These are a couple of different stories of this account:

The crew members reported the abuse (by the father) of a 13 year old daughter from one of the families featured in their production, as soon as they learned that it had just taken place. They took the abused child to the Dr & then the hospital, and next, even took the girl and her younger brother to a local hotel, accompanied by a representative from the Department of Children's Services. The production of this episode was closed down and completely shelved.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Suncana Sesic Alvarado said...

Last year over two million American families were falsely accused of child abuse!!!

It is not in any one individual state but is now a worldwide epidemic.

The abuse of children is a horrendous and unacceptable crime in any society and it is correct that when such acts occur, immediate protection is available for the children and appropriate action is taken in regard to the offenders.
However, what is also unacceptable is the high level of false accusation of child abuse which also has abusive effects on children and the families who are falsely accused. Child abuse has in recent years taken on a witch hunt atmosphere wherein all it takes is a simple anonymous telephone report to start the nightmare, both for innocent parents and their children.All it takes is an anonymous call to one of their many snitch lines to set the (CPS) hounds baying after both innocent and guilty people, and they don't bother to make a distinction, in most cases. "If you're reported, you must be guilty" in their lexicon. Prosecutors use child abuse cases as an easy route to higher office, since it's much easier to convict someone of child abuse than of murder.These children are being traumatized beyond repair all in an effort to help them. But tearing normal, healthy families apart based on minor, and incorrect suspicions should be considered criminal in and of itself.It is amazing how people without wealth are so easily locked up and saddled with defense expenses without any concrete evidence.There is a well-documented anti-family bias in the child protection industry and when CPS workers go after you, you are deemed guilty as soon as you're reported. Never mind the proof. The fact that 60%-80% of child abuse charges today are unsubstantiated seems to be lost on them. They think they're right, and they won't hear otherwise. This is abuse of power !

How long will the investigation take? -"We will investigate this case as long as necessary - I don't want to lose or jeopardize my job!" - No investigation is necessary, "If you're reported, you must be guilty" ! - Rules: send parents to; school, therapists,doctors....and that has to be done in regular working time. Because of that rule parents are losing their job! But don't break rules you my lose your rights to your children! Who is the winner in this game? Why are so many kids losing their childhood? How long will the "investigation" take? 1- 6 years and more! Somebody is stealing their childhood !
"....also this terrifys me because I was in cps costudy fro the age of 11. It was a horrible experience.. I remember the feelings . feeling in my stomach of unconformable. the only theig that would make these feeling go away was dreaming of being able to go home with my mother.And theres so much more to my storie that ends up in cps losing me at the age of 15.... and they never found me . hell they never reported me missing. My family after 5month had found out that ther was not a police report made . Reported me missing .. that was peep into my life in cps. I didnt relise until now !!! I mean until typing this how much it hurts to think about it all . i am cry the thoughout typing this . i never new how much this has effected my life then and now......" -Savannah Cooke- #3,297

And it is more safety "investigat" innocent families then some gangs or where is really needed !

Finally, a point which must also be considered, is that false accusations of child abuse carry a very considerable financial cost to the judicial system and particularly to Social Services Departments which are constantly claiming shortages of resources. There are costs to the police, prosecution services, pre-trial custody costs, foster care and residential care costs, social work costs, legal aid, lost wages, and expert medical examinations which take resources from overstretched health services.+ Would pay $950K to family of man accused of abuse: !!!! ---How many hungry kids we can feed with that $.!!!!!

Imagine if you were suddenly accused of being a child molester.....
Imagine if nobody believed you when you cried out that you were innocent....
Imagine if you were separated from your children and sent to prison for life....

Some people don't have to imagine. It really happened to them !









I don't mean to disturb you but I really want people to be aware about that subject, because today, tomorrow, in the next half hour, it could happen to us too!
Do you remember movie "Just Ask My Children", based on a True Story?
"Scott and Brenda Kniffen were arrested without warning one morning in April, 1982, at their home in Bakersfield, Calif. Scott Kniffen had offered to act as a character witness for a friend who had been accused of molesting children by a mentally ill relative. For standing up for their friend, the Kniffens also fell under suspicion. While awaiting trial, Brenda was attacked in jail by the other prisoners, who beat her up and threw feces at her. Their two sons, 6-year-old Brian and 8-year-old Brandon, were questioned by a zealous prosecutor who promised them that they would see their parents if only they would answer the questions. So after hundreds of denials, the Kniffen boys finally agreed that they had been hung from hooks, made to pose for child pornography, and raped. (No photographs, let alone hooks, were ever found.) But the Kniffen boys were not reunited with their parents. Once the state had"saved" them, they were tossed into the foster-care system and forgotten. Brian lived in 16 different homes before he and his brother were old enough to seek legal help and recant their testimony. Their parents served 14 years of a 240-year sentence before an appeals court judge set them free in 1996. "
Their lives were destroyed because false accusation .But what about all those years lost - we can never get them back. We don't need that kind of movies based on a True Story ! What do we need ,STOP before it’s too late.

"It's time we started to recognize the self-serving nature of the various abuse crusades that get launched with ever-increasing regularity by that coalition of groups in our society: social workers, therapists,doctors, the media, the courts, the shelters, etc., which make their livings by exploiting, and oftentimes creating, family pathology." Something needs to change with the way they handle Families,they remove childen without full investigation.

Immediate reforms to child welfare practices are needed.

Child Protective Services :Power to Protect ; Power to Abuse
Child Protective Services - Guilty Until Proven Innocent!

Please don't just say no, give it a chance,please. True inof, some local media avenues are already shedding light on this, but we need a bigger voice or it won't change. Someone the PEOPLE will listen to, give innocent Children a voice.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impressive webpage! I like it a lot! I'm looking forward to the next update


8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Wendy Titelman's name here??!!!! She was not falsely accused of anything... SHE falsely accused someone else!

7:09 AM  

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